On 23 March 1994, the then presidential candidate for Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Luis Donaldo Colosio, was assassinated at a rally in Tijuana. The first political assassination in Mexico for almost seven decades, the act shocked the nation. Colosio’s message of hope resonated amongst those seeking change from corruption and abuses of power. Following his death, Colosio was considered the leader who might have been; Mexico’s own Robert Kennedy.
Although a lone gunman was arrested and is currently serving a 45-year prison term, it was suspected he did not act alone. The conspiracy theories about how many were actually responsible are still abundant and hotly debated.
Colosio reconstructs the assassination and presents a fictional account of the weeks that followed; the parallel investigations, the first official, and the second, secret investigation led by Andrés Vázquez (José María Yazpik).
Vázquez is an intelligence expert with a dark past who leads a team perilously good at their jobs. Yazpik shines in this role and his character and that of his wife, Verónica (played by the stunning Kate Del Castillo), are credible and give stability to the frenetic story packed with characters and punchy dialogue.
Daniel Giménez Cacho, playing el Doctor, is compelling as the terrifying puppet-master. This film is worth seeing for his well-directed lurking and superbly controlled malevolence. Odiseo Bichir is convincing as el Licenciado, the minion unable to escape involvement.
Notable performances also come from Karina Gidi as Bertha, the world’s most efficient sidekick, and Luis Ernesto Franco as the always-eating Pedro. Look out for an over-too-quickly glimpse of Teresa Ruiz as the girlfriend/snitch and Harold Torres who plays both the shooter and, cleverly, also the two other suspects who look like him in the investigation.
Most impressive is the exceptional editing of stylised footage (including stock footage) and the masterfully reconstructed scenes giving the overall effect of a documentary. Colosio (portrayed by Enoc Leaño, who bears more than a passing resemblance to the title character) is clearly thoroughly researched and it faithfully recreates the drug barons and cashed-up politicos of the time in a society heavy with corruption.
The reconstruction of the assassination/reveal scene was difficult to follow for a non-Spanish speaker, as its pace, quite-rightly speedy, was almost too much to keep up with whilst trying to comprehend the poorly produced English subtitles.
Directed by Carlos Bolado, Colosio is a political thriller with a true premise and a plausible outcome. Luckily, the puppet-master is fictitious.
Reviewed by Gordon Forester
Rating out of 10: 7
The Hola Mexico Film Festival runs 29 November to 8 December 2013 exclusively at the Mercury Cinema.