Emilio Puente, Carmen Maura, Mariana Gajá, Diego Alvarez Garcia
Director: Alejandro Andrade Pease
Mexican coming-of-age Drama Seeds is released in the UK this week by TLA Releasing. 12 year old Andy (Puente) is left stricken with grief after his mother is killed in a violent armed robbery. With his parents separated, he has no close family living nearby, so his estranged father’s mother (Maura) takes him into her home. House-proud, aloof and strict, she keeps from him why he is unable to see his father, but despite the idyllic setting of her home, it becomes increasingly clear to him that the business of the neighbourhood is intertwined with the drugs trade.
This is a film about the innocence of childhood, through whose eyes we see the shadows of the darker side of his parents’ world. A luscious idyll carved into the jungle, his grandmother’s house looks every inch of paradise: lofty rooms, beautiful interiors and luscious gardens, with a hunky gardener attached. But really it’s a prison, keeping Andy in and the outside world out. But that hunky gardener (Garcia) is from the outside world and Andy finds himself drawn to him, his abs and his free-spirited nature, which will only land them both in trouble.
As sexual awakening dramas go, this plays for subtlety instead of palpable sexuality. The word “gay” is never uttered around the object of Andy’s affection; in fact it’s often unclear whether it’s the boy that fancies the gardener or just the camera.
Maura is suitably imperious here – you will likely recognise her from her collaborations with Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar – but often little more than a pantomime villainess. At its heart, a film like this relies on the subtlety of its child actor, but Puente is pretty blank-faced and vacant as Andy, which some might read as enigma, but comes off more as flat and lacklustre.