On the cusp of 30, on meds for depression, still living at home in rural Kansas with his parents, Edward (Shawn Ashmore) seems to have little going for him. Then an evening at a local Mexican restaurant, where the elderly proprietor serenades customers with traditional mariachi folk music, sets Edward’s life in a new direction. Soon he’s over the border in Guadalajara, where enough of the old ways remain for him to try and find a route into the world of the mariachi.
An unlikely tale, perhaps, but the film treats the music with respect, relying on the universality of the ‘follow your dream’ theme to hold its low-key drama together. Refreshingly, ‘Mariachi Gringo’ looks beyond the usual cartel/corruption/bloodbath take on modern Mexico, but the result is altogether stronger on sincerity than emotional engagement. Ashmore (Iceman from ‘X-Men’) acquits himself credibly with a guitar, but never really sells us the passion which might draw us in to his unusual odyssey. Well-meaning, but underwhelming.