Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
A Night in Old Mexico opens with the above quote from poet Dylan Thomas setting the tone and themes that permeate throughout the rest of the movie. Robert Duvall returns on fine form as Red Bovie, an old time Texan rancher who has been dealt some difficult hands in the latter part of his life. We join him on the day in which the only thing he has left, his land, is being repossessed by the bank, leaving him with nothing at all. An extremely powerful opening scene in which Red debates suicide whilst talking to God as an equal, reveals the troubled mind-set of our protagonist; and showing that Duvall is still taking up some serious acting roles.
Coincidentally, Red’s grandson Gally of whom he has never met before, turns up on the same day looking to explore his ancestry whilst escaping from college and a few problems of his own. As Red and Gally arrive at a retirement home in which the former is expected to settle down, Red freaks out and makes a drastic last minute decision, swinging the car around and driving in any direction for a few last adventures before accepting he’s at ‘the close of day’.
Their journey takes them into Mexico, where a few unpredictable twists and turns see them engulfed by the darker side of the southern border. The duo meet attractive and aspiring Patty Wafers along the way, who provides some feminine energy and stirs up ambiguous relationships in a manner reflective of Y tu mama tambien (Alfonso Cuarón) – something reminding us that despite the films American rooting a European director has been calling the shots.
Playing on the conventions of the classic road movie with a few unpredictable, and at times beavering on unbelievable, circumstances, A Night in Old Mexico follows an older man who won’t accept that his adventures are over whilst leaving enough room for everyone to make some self-discoveries along the way. Although the film is littered with symbols of death, the final shootout takes place in a graveyard and the whole day pans out over Día de Muertos, the overall message is uplifting through its ability to suggest there is the capacity to both rage and burn gracefully at the close of day.
Appealing for older and younger viewers alike, A Night in Old Mexico finds a strong balance between comedy, action and adventure – and in true road movie pun style – it’s a ride worth taking.
A Night in Old Mexico is out in cinemas and on VOD from May 16 2014