“A Hole in the Fence” is an allegorical rendition of how the “elites” get to stay that way, generation after generation. It’s not just money which buys politicians who rewrite tax laws protecting extreme wealth. There’s a veritable cradle-to-the-grave infrastructure designed to breed, train and finance the new leaders in a class war that they pay their media shills to pretend isn’t happening.
Filmmaker Joaquin del Paso, who directed the similarly allegorical “Panamerican Machinery,” gives us a Mexican “Lord of the Flies,” a creepy-as-all-get-out summer camp tale where the children of the rich and powerful are groomed for their roles as the ruling class by professors who teach class contempt and Catholicism, hand in mail-fisted glove.
“Acting in your best interest is the best response to any dilemma,” the martinet Professor Monteros teaches. Empathy? Compassion? They’ll just slow your roll. Stick up for yourself and your own kind is what they’re teaching the Los Pinos boys.
“Remember,” he and his fellow drill instructors intone, in Spanish with English subtitles. “Our creator is always watching!”
The boys have camp labor and Catholic sermons, with a healthy dose of paranoia about the “poor” and “troubled” (crime) part of Mexico where this exclusive experience is nestled.
The 30 or so boys are left to their own devices — somewhat — which leads to the expected hazing, bullying gangs and picking on “the scholarship boy,” working class Eduardo (Yubah Ortega), the “beaner,” “f—–g brownie” in their ranks. He is merely the darkest skinned and the first to be singled out.
The lack of adult intervention in these beatings, homophobic taunts and the like is by design, we gather.
“He who is free from sin may have ice cream!”
There’s a student monitor (Raúl Vasconcelos) who knows first aid, is in charge of making sure the kid with his foot and arm and neck in casts (Eric David Walker) takes his depression meds. Edwin may be taking a special interest in tiny, injured Diego.
And there’s an existential threat. Something tore a hole in the fence around the compound. Gunfire is heard in the surrounding hills and forest. The “locals” are described as “narcos” and worse.
Monteros may preach that he wants to toughen up these boys, that he wants “men with juevos.” But as much time as the kids spend observing birds that they’re told are all male and have managing a monosexual avian culture (Say what?), you’ve got to wonder if that isn’t part of the grooming going on here as well.
This Bohemian Grove for the children of the Mexican oligarchy features tastes of opera for evening entertainment and daytime play/work with axes and shovels mixed with a Darwinian social mix that selects the mouthy, the noncomforists, for beating down as it rewards the bullies.
Jordi, played by transgender actress Valeria Lamm, is the brattiest of the bratty. Joaquincito (Lucciano Kurti) is destined for adult and peer hazing and abuse, but only after they’ve come after poor Eduardo, hammer and tong. Until he fights back.
It’s all so disturbing that the viewer, recognizing the British stories this seems based on, keeps looking around for which kid will snap. We’re almost rooting for “Lord of the Flies” to transition to “If…”
Director del Paso was making a statement about Mexico’s heirarchy, the Catholic faith that rewards the rich by keeping the poor meek. But this story could be set in many places at this point in time.
When you see the brutish incuriosity, the cowardly pack-mentality cruelty and utter disregard for “selflessness” and “compassion,” it’s hard not to see its North American analogs among the most self-serving, system-rigging raised-to-be-authoritarians among us. And pray that they devour each other rather than us.
Rating: unrated, violence, profanity
Cast: Enrique Lascurain, Eric David Walker, Diego Lozano, Valeria Lamm, Lucciano Kurti, Yubah Ortega, Charles Oppenheim, Jacek Poniedzialek and Takahiro Murokawa
Credits: Directed by Joaquin del Paso, scripted by Lucy Pawlak and Joaquin del Paso. An Altered Innocence release.
Running time: 1:42
For me, “Lord of the Flies” was a classic that can be told in many different ways—this way almost seems like a combo of it and “The Wave,” which was extremely unnerving. Brilliant, though. If love to see it!