Semana Santa (Holy Week) is a Mexican film by Alejandra Márquez Abella. It’s a sort of coming of age story about a young boy who is traveling with his mother and his mother’s boyfriend to a resort area in Acapulco during Easter vacation.
We learn little snippets, here and there, about the family situation. The son has lived with his grandmother because the mother has drinking and drug issues and hasn’t always been qualified to care for the son. The son wants to stay with the mother but clearly doesn’t trust her. The boyfriend, who has his own issues, is a better, more reliable “parent”, than the mother.
The boyfriend has a lot of nostalgia for the resort and wants to bring his girlfriend to the beach to cement their relationship. Things don’t go as planned, in part because he can’t afford the run-down resort.
The 8 year-old son is left to roam around on his own. He discovers a wallet with a lot of money which he uses to rent a horse and buy extraordinary amounts of candy. He uses the candy to befriend other kids who have apparently been left on their own as well. It’s not unlike the alcohol the adults in his world use to “befriend” others.
Acapulco is in the state of Guerrero on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. It’s just 240 miles south of Mexico City and is Mexico’s largest beach. It is also one of Mexico’s oldest beach resorts. The name “Acapulco” comes from Nahuatl language Aca-pōl-co which means “where the reeds were washed away”. It’s a major spring break destination for college kids in the U.S. because the drinking age is still just 18 years old.
My parents went to Acapulco on vacation in the early 1970s. I think at the time, it was still considered to be a fairly glamorous place to vacation. In the film, the area is beautiful but there is a lot of trash and the accommodations are run-down. You can’t trust the elevator because it stops working regularly. The bellhop is very old and can’t hear. And the hotel pools are taken advantage of by people who are camping on the beach and can’t afford to stay in a hotel.
Semana Santa is a beautiful film with a lot of depth. I enjoyed it!