Daily life in Mexico for women is macabre. Day after day, alerts are activated to find missing minors and young people in different entities. An average of 10 femicides are also reported daily, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI). In other words, being a woman is a sentence in this country that seems to hate them.
What would you do if you were a father or mother and found out that your daughter had been kidnapped or was missing? This is an unavoidable question to ask yourself after seeing La civil. Although we should do it before seeing the film because, as cruel as it may read, the national reality forces us to do so for fear that our daughters, mothers, sisters or partners will not return home as a result of the prevailing violence.
The film is also a reminder, and even an invitation, to put ourselves in the shoes of relatives who are looking for their loved ones reported missing. The main emphasis, if you want to perceive it that way, is in serving the seeking mothers of Mexico, a group of women that has been growing between pain and hope to find their daughters or sons.
A mother who goes to vacant lots, deserts or lonely territories to dig the earth with the intention of finding corpses, clothing, body parts or bone remains that allow her missing loved one to be identified is heartbreaking, it breaks the soul. What hell is behind to reach that undesirable point for a mom? What path so rotten in the environment and absent of justice must a woman travel to take a shovel as a tool of hope and struggle?
This is exactly what Teodora Mihai breaks down with the direction, Arcelia Ramírez with the acting, Habacuc Antonio de Rosario with the script written together with the director, and Marius Panduru with the photography. That journey is based on the true story of Miriam Rodriguez, a woman who found the whereabouts of the kidnappers and murderers of her daughter Karla Alejandra after two years of working on her own in the face of the ignominy and ineffectiveness of the authorities. Unfortunately, three of the criminals she managed to incarcerate escaped from prison and murdered her in front of her home in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, in 2017.
Just like Miriam, thousands of mothers mobilize like her today. That is why the civilian It fits in any region of the country, sadly. He approaches the rawness of that search through Cielo, a character played by Arcelia Ramírez. The actress gets into the skin of a mother who is capable of anything to find her daughter. Her nuances (fear, anguish, anger, pain) introduce the viewer to that ordeal that through fiction drives towards empathy, to reconsider the indolence that as a society we have had with seeking mothers.
Marius Punduru reinforces that experience with convulsive camera movements at critical moments of the search, a manifestation of the desperation that comes with the desire to locate a daughter. He is also hard and forthright in portraying the unimaginable that a mother can encounter on the way (note the wake-crematory sequence). No one would like to be in that situation, but we can’t pretend to be ignorant of those who are.
The subplots about the roles that men play in these crimes are not minor. From the machismo that inhabits the family nucleus to act immediately in the face of a horrifying event, through the dehumanization of organized crime, to the indifference of those who must seek justice, the seeking mother deals with a male monster with a thousand heads. However, she is not afraid of him. Is there room for panic in a mother whose life has been taken from her, understand her daughter? And no, it doesn’t fit when the most sacred thing for that loved one keeps her standing, love.