'Club Sandwich'

'Club Sandwich' (Handout)

The title of Mexican writer-director Fernando Eimbcke’s third feature could refer to pudgy teenage protagonist Hector’s (Lucio Gimenex Cacho) sandwich of choice; he orders one while lolling poolside at the hotel he and his mother, Paloma (Maria Renee Prudencio), are lodging at while on a discounted offseason vacation. When they review the hotel’s menu—her reposing in a lounge a polka-dotted bikini and sunglasses; him stretched out stomach-down, kicking his bent legs back and forth—fun-loving Paloma says she’ll just have a sandwich, not a club. “Too much bread,” she says. “So?” Hector asks. “It’s fattening,” she answers. Hector turns his head back to glance at her. “You’re not fat,” he says sincerely.

Paloma and Hector’s relationship transcends that of an average mother-son bond (perhaps due to the fact that there’s no father in the equation): While they’re sojourning, they apply each other’s sunscreen, sunbathe and channel-surf together, exchange high-fives in the pool. An almost couple-y quality pervades their interactions, and frankly, it can feel a little weird.

So some relief—and comedy—ensues when Hector’s budding sexuality drives a wedge between them. When Paloma ventures beyond the hotel, Hector stays behind, closing the curtains so he can masturbate. Later, without his mother there to cover him with sunscreen, he falls asleep by the pool. Soon he is discovered, red as a tomato, by Jazmin, a plump, curly-haired 16-year-old girl (Danae Reynaud Romero) whose family checks in to the otherwise-empty hotel. She takes him to her hotel room and rubs some lotion into his sunburnt back. They sit together on the bed, waiting for it to dry. It’s a small event, but it’s enough to change Hector’s world. He becomes caught in between two women’s affections, unsure of which to choose.

Though the romance develops fast (and without much dialogue), Eimbcke employs a subtle hand in his depiction of Hector’s experimentation with Jazmin. The director lays on the understated humor when Paloma discovers the teens’ relationship, but all the while, he allows the pain of Hector’s withdrawal to pierce through that, like a toothpick through bread.