Review of “Lost in the Night” – A Mexican Corruption Melodrama by Amat Escalante with a Lynchian Twist

Amat Escalante is the Mexican film-maker who created the brutal and politically engaged crime drama Heli in 2013, for which he won the best director award in Cannes, and in 2016 the deeply strange body horror parable The Untamed which was a prizewinner at Venice. Now, after a stint on the streaming TV drama Narcos: Mexico he has directed and co-written this contorted Lynchian melodrama about Mexico’s corruption, cynicism and indifference, and all the secrets and lies that bloat the country’s ruling classes.

The film “Lost in the Night” revolves around a possible murder of a woman being buried on the property of a wealthy family. This aspect of the film is similar to Natalia López Gallardo’s “Robe of Gems,” as both filmmakers have collaborated with Carlos Reygadas. The movie is unconventional, with a mix of violence and disconnected scenes that somehow tie together. It also has a subtle theme of sexual frustration, but lacks the intense gravity found in Escalante’s previous works. There is speculation that Escalante originally intended for this to be a streaming TV series, which may have been a more effective format.

Emiliano, also known as Juan Daniel García Treviño, is a young person whose mother, an activist, has been taken by the authorities for protesting against a mining company in their local area. He becomes convinced that his mother’s body has been hidden in the grounds of a modern and stylish villa owned by wealthy TV personality Carmen, her daughter Mónica, who is popular on Instagram, and her new partner, an avant-garde artist named Rigoberto. Rigoberto enjoys provoking a nearby religious cult. Emiliano manages to secure a job as their handyman and while searching for potential burial sites, he becomes entangled in the complicated and dysfunctional sexual dynamics of the household.

Emiliano’s connection with his mother, the tragic events she faced, the problem of the harmful and environmentally devastating mine, and the individuals involved in her death and the destruction of Mexico’s environment and communities… these are all presented as significant at first, and the audience is encouraged to care about their impact. However, towards the end, Emiliano’s mother appears to be disregarded and the film becomes weak and somewhat superficial. Despite this, Escalante’s strong storytelling and ability to create unsettling visuals maintain the intensity of the film.