There's no reverie Alonso Ruizpalacios's Güeros can't shatter, no presumed truth it can't complicate, no expectation of closure it won't dash. Set in Mexico City during 1999's 292-day student strike at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, the film is about — if any one thing -- proximity to decisiveness, about the young people who don't think they are the answer to the problems facing their world but are eager to sleep with the ones who do. Its three male leads -- two college-aged men, Federico (Tenoch Huerta) and Santos (Leonardo Ortizgris), plus Federico's troublemaking adolescent brother Tomás (Sebastián Aguirre), sent to them for a lesson in maturity -- spend most of the film without a mission, driving no place in particular, on the edge of events that would mean everything in another film.
They crash the protests and sweet-talk firebrand student leader Ana (Ilse Salas) into dashing off with them; Tomás and Federico sometimes invest their energy in attempts to track down a once promising folk singer beloved by their father. Eventually, they wind up at a film premiere, where Ana's a hit and the boys slump on the party's fringe. There, Federico finally reveals a passion: He detests the way indie filmmakers from Mexico make his country look terrible with the benefit of public money.
That speech, of course, is a surprise coming from a college student who seems fundamentally disengaged with his culture. What makes Güeros fascinating, besides the joyous invention of Ruizpalacios's craft, is how the director emphasizes rather than hides his own authorial engagement — these characters might not have felt that in '99, but Ruizpalacios feels it now, so why not permit Federico to let rip with a thesis statement?