VLAFF 2012: A severed head is always a killer plot device

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      It’s been a while since we had a good movie about a severed head. In fact, it pretty much starts and ends with Warren Oates tooling around Mexico with Alfredo Garcia’s rotting noggin in a sack, although Fecha de Caducidad (aka Expiration Date) certainly has its share of grotesque charms.

      Kenya Marquez’ debut feature also takes us back to Mexico; the picturesquely decrepit bits of Guadalajara to be precise, where nobody apparently ever bothers to clean the congealed blood from the floor of the city morgue.

      It’s here that we meet Genaro (Damian Alcazar), a greasy scavenger working as a sort of under-the-table coroner. How he becomes entwined with an increasingly deluded old lady (Ana Ofelia Murguía) searching for her missing asshole of a son, and an abused woman (Marisol Centeno) on the run from a murder (breaking up can be a real bitch) is something Marquez approaches in succession from all three points of view.

      Aided and abetted by outstanding lead performances, the whole deliciously morbid and queasily funny story is thus parceled out in intriguing slivers until all those little non sequiturs—like Mariana asking Genaro if it’s possible to “dissolve a body”—also congeal into something whole. Even then, Fecha de Caducidad wisely and almost poetically maintains some of its mysteries. What are we to make of all that tomato soup, for one thing?

      Fecha de Caducidad screens at Pacific Cinémathèque, on Thursday (September 6), and at Goldcorp Centre for the Arts-Simon Fraser University, on Saturday (September 8)

      You can follow Adrian Mack's contribution to the lobotomizing techno-nightmare known as Twitter at @AdrianMacked.