Review: Walking Distance – Short distances (2015)

Director: Alejandro Guzmán Alvarez | 104 minutes | comedy, drama | Actors: Luca Ortega, Mauricio Isaac, Joel Figueroa, Martha Claudia Moreno

Robert De Niro, Matt Damon, Benicio del Toro, Jared Leto, Russell Crowe, the list of actors who put in a lot of weight to play a convincing role is long. Luca Ortega, drummer of the Mexican band San Pascualito Rey and film composer, is not a thin man in everyday life, but for his acting debut in the Mexican ‘Walking Distance’ (‘Distancias cortas’) he outweighed any of the aforementioned Hollywood actors in their most important roles.

“Walking Distance” is about Fede (Luca Ortega), an obese man who still lives in the same dilapidated house ten years after his mother’s death. Due to his extreme obesity, he hardly leaves the house anymore, he earns his money by working from home. The weekly visits of his sister Rosaura and her husband Ramon are a high point in his desolate life, although Rosaura never knows how quickly to get out and is only annoyed by his awkward movements and pungent body odor. During one of those visits, Ramon Fede shows holiday snapshots, taken with a new, simple, digital camera and Fede suddenly realizes that he also has a camera somewhere. With difficulty he pulls the box from under his bed and the next day he takes the film to a photo specialty store. And that sounds easier than it is, because this walk takes him to the limit.

At the photo shop, he meets teenage Paulo working there, who reacts enthusiastically to the type of film and leaves Fede in the shop for an hour and a half while he develops the photos. Fede uses that time to look around and orientate himself on digital cameras. Eventually he leaves the store, with the photos – which evoke warm memories in him – and a new camera. When he has technical problems with the device, which he is happy with as a child, Paulo personally comes over to fix it. It is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Walking Distance is a slow (but by no means boring), somewhat sentimental, bittersweet film about how to learn to love yourself, even when your body isn’t cooperating. It goes without saying that friendship helps with this, because without Paulo and Ramon Fede would not be able to get out of the rut. The respect and love for the characters shines through in every scene, nowhere do we feel that we have to laugh at Fede, but we can love him. We also hold in our hearts Ramon and the odd one out Paulo, sitting under the thumb of his wife. A nice, warm feel-good film with a captivating story and beautifully photographed … “Walking Distance” opens your eyes to the precious little things in life.

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