You’d have to be heartless not to be touched by this moving film about a gay couple who emigrate from Mexico to the United States not just in pursuit of the American Dream but simply to be together without fear of being killed.
This is a true story and director Heidi Ewing, renowned for her documentaries, adds a twist to her narrative feature debut by including the actual couple in the movie. In their younger scenes, Iván García and Gerardo ZaVe are portrayed by actors (Armando Espitia and Christian Vasquez, respectively) but, later on, as adults in New York, they play themselves. This works to a degree but, honestly, Espitia and Vasquez have so much chemistry that by the time the real subjects enter the movie, you’re so invested in the characters, it doesn’t add that much. Their story is powerful enough.
I Carry You With Me is told from Iván’s perspective and it includes many flashbacks to life in a country where machismo is simply an inherent part of the culture. Ewing never stereotypes Mexico or its people – Iván and Gerardo both have decent jobs and come from families who love them and mean well – but she also doesn’t shy away from the truth. And that truth, as young Gerardo learns from his father one night, is that being gay in that society can get you killed. It also means that Iván could lose his son, Ricky.
Although they do both eventually make it to the United States – a harrowing experience in itself – their problems don’t magically disappear.
Iván and Gerardo already have three strikes against them, being gay, Hispanic and immigrants, and Ewing does an exceptional job of representing these marginalized groups authentically and with great empathy. This combination is rarely depicted in movies, and whether you identify with any or none of those groups, it’s impossible not to relate to Iván and Gerardo’s desires, aspirations and frustrations.
I Carry You With Me beautifully depicts the trauma that remains hidden under the surface for so many immigrants who carry on their daily lives with grace. It’s a reminder that they are not numbers or statistics; they are human beings who have sacrificed so much to make a better life for themselves and their families – and, through their essential but often low paying jobs, for you and your family. They have left so much behind.
The film is quietly beautiful, taking its time to remember the past, to pay attention to small details, to celebrate the miracle of love.
You will carry the messages of this eye-opening movie with you always.