Museo

Directed by critically acclaimed Mexican filmmaker Alonso Ruizpalacios in his second feature, Museo is a very creative and exciting heist movie that works beautifully as a result of its unique storytelling and terrific acting performances. The Mexican film, with Spanish dialogue and English subtitles, tells the true story of the greatest art heist in Mexican history that took place on Christmas Eve in 1985 at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City by a pair of amateur thieves. The plot follows two best friends who are leading rather unremarkable lives outside Mexico City in the middle-class suburb Satellite City: the mastermind and the black sheep of his family Juan, played by Golden Globe winner and celebrated Mexican actor Gael García Bernal, and the film’s narrator and mustached partner in crime Wilson, played by Leonardo Ortizgris. After working part-time at the Museum and witnessing the value of the prehistoric artifacts, Juan hatches a plan to break into the Museum late at night when the security guards are distracted and steal mostly Mayan archaeological pieces that they then hope to sell on the black market. The filmmaker makes a highly effective decision to present the actual heist scenes as a artful collection of montage sequences in which the duo are shown meticulously removing each artifact and the camera freezes on each stolen piece as the actors try to remain still. This dazzling filmmaking effect reflects the artworks that are being stolen from the architecturally contemporary museum so important to the pre-Columbian Mesoamerican heritage of Mexico. They are able to pull off the robbery rather easily as a result of it taking place at a time before the widespread use of security cameras and alarms, and they are even able to return to their families’ Christmas celebrations unnoticed. Things begin to unravel when the clearly unprepared young thieves quickly discover that they may not be able to sell any of the almost 150 artifacts because they are priceless and any art collector would not be stupid enough to purchase them as they would be easily detected. Towards the end of the movie, the story becomes more of a comic misadventure in which a pair of bumbling criminals desperately try to offload their illicit goods and eventually come to the conclusion that none of their crimes may have been worth anything. Overall, I found it to be a gripping film that artistically presents a truly fascinating story filled with excellent performances, especially from the always terrific Bernal, and, therefore, allows it to stand out among the countless number of heist movies.

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