This film was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival
The deliberate pacing of writer / director Katherine Jerkovic’s drama “Coyote” feels like a meditative exercise on complicated relationships. It’s a tough story that’s presented in a slow, pensive fashion which may aggravate some audiences. Those who become immersed in the film as an emotional experience will find an absorbing story about a broken family and their attempts to put the pieces back together.
Camilo (Jorge Martinez Colorado) once was a successful chef who owned his own restaurant. Now widowed and alone, he works as a janitor. Things begin to look up for the man when he’s offered a job in the suburbs, and he’s excited at the possibility of running a kitchen once again. It’s an opportunity that would be foolish for Camilo to pass up, but his world is turned upside down when his estranged daughter Tania (Eva Avila) shows up at her father’s door with a plea: agree to keep her 5-year-old son Zachary (Enzo Desmeules Saint-Hilaire) for three weeks while she returns to a rehab facility for drug abuse.
It’s a very sad situation all around, especially when it’s revealed that Camilo lost his successful restaurant because of his daughter’s addiction. At first he refuses to babysit because he was unaware that he even had a grandson, but especially because he doesn’t want to lose the amazing chance he’s being given to restart his career. Eventually Camilo agrees to take the boy because it’s the right thing to do.
The story is sad but also uplifting, and Camilo is the embodiment of a truly good soul. He is thrust into an unfortunate situation and gives up so much with one singular goal: to do the best he can for his family. It’s no coincidence that Camilo has been working as a janitor; he literally cleans up messes made by others. Everyone here is trying their hardest. Tania is struggling to get clean while Zachary is terrified of losing his mother. It’s an unstable existence for everyone, yet all three are sacrificing a lot just to keep things together.
This isn’t a cheerful movie plot-wise, but it has a realism in its look and feel. Jerkovic has an eye for artistic framing, and the drab, gray cinematography evokes a dreary atmosphere that complements the thoughtful storytelling and Colorado’s understated lead performance. This film has a mood that comes full circle with its visuals and timing.
Writing a fresh chapter in your personal story is what life is all about, and “Coyote” is a reminder that sometimes those new beginnings may not always happen in the way we expect. This is a family drama that will stick with you.
By: Louisa Moore