Day 12 of the 2022 Milwaukee Film Festival brought me to the Cine Sin Fronteras program and the Venezuelan film ME AND THE BEASTS.
ME AND THE BEASTS focuses on Andrés, a young, frustrated musician who quits his band, takes an unpaid leave from his job, and sets out to produce an album by himself. Andrés is soon joined by two imaginary muses or “beasts” as his work starts to comes together. But there are obstacles in his path that are going to bring a humbling and challenge his love of music making.
ME AND THE BEASTS is something of a low key comedy as Andrés is kind of an egocentric jerk alienating everyone around him. There’s an open question as to whether he’s really talented or whether he just thinks he’s really talented which is not answered until the end. There’s not much joy present in his life unless he’s making music. And there’s a big humbling that occurs in the film that anyone who’s done creative work can relate to.
ME AND THE BEASTS also focuses on the economic issues of Venezuela. Andrés has a good day job at a laboratory, but it doesn’t provide him any opportunity to pursue his artistic ambitions. His ostensible girlfriend doesn’t even consider leaving her job to help. Andrés can’t go to the beach without the possibility of being mugged. And the police are out there to shake people down. Corruption and struggle are everywhere. It’s definitely a snapshot in time with the economic and political turmoil in Venezuela with no signs of it getting better anytime soon. The lack of financial opportunity for Andrés comes around to frustrate him even if music is providing a respite.
With a colorful visual style, some music making interludes that capture the joy of making music, and a solid performance from Jesus Nunes as Andrés, even if Andrés is a little insufferable at times, and ME AND THE BEASTS is an easy watch. It helps that the music is good too. It does fall into the in between area where it’s not quite a drama and not quite a comedy, there are no big laughs to be had, and that lack of structure doesn’t really resolve itself until the very end. Joy and frustration mingle, but the love of music kind of carries the day as a reward unto itself.
ME AND THE BEASTS has no more screenings during the 2022 Milwaukee Film Festival but it’s still available to stream on the virtual portion of the festival. The 2022 Milwaukee Film Festival runs from April 21, 2022 until May 5, 2022. You can purchase tickets at mkefilm.org.