The Austin Chronicle

Pulling Strings

Rated PG, 112 min. Directed by Pedro Pablo Ibarra. Starring Laura Ramsey, Jaime Camil, Omar Chaparro, Tom Arnold, Stockard Channing.

REVIEWED By Louis Black, Fri., Oct. 4, 2013

As with last month’s , Pulling Strings is another bilingual romantic comedy that involves a single father's life and misadventures.

Rachel (Ramsey), a diplomatic consul for the U.S. Embassy, has just been promoted from her post in Mexico City to London. Feeling very much a gypsy, Rachel is excited about her promotion, and even though she likes Mexico City, she feels no special attachment to it. During her last weekend there, her boss (Arnold) entrusts to her a computer loaded with valuable information. A co-worker gets her to visit a bar where there is a surprise going-away party for her. Even though she is initially reluctant to take time for a drink, the party gets quite wild and the normally sober Rachel drinks quite a lot.

The entertainment at the party is provided by a mariachi band, led by the charismatic and attractive Alejandro (Camil). Coincidentally, Rachel had turned down his request for a visa earlier that day to take his daughter to be with her grandparents in Arizona. In dealing with him, she had avoided eye contact so she understandably doesn't recognize him, though he certainly does her. After the party, Rachel is so intoxicated she passes out on a park bench. Alejandro walks by, sees her, and ends up taking her home with him just to help her out. When she wakes she has no memory of the night before, but thinks the computer is missing. Alejandro has actually hidden it but pretends to join her on a quest to find it in the hope of perhaps getting her to grant a visa.

Pulling Strings is an urban adventure, a trip through Mexico City populated by many interesting characters. Rachel's situation is made more difficult by the arrival of her bossy mom (Channing), who wants to get too involved in her life. Ultimately, the film is absolutely charming if a bit too predictable and glued more to sit-com narrative strategies and aesthetics than is healthy. Still, Pulling Strings works on a number of levels – especially regarding the winning cast – and may prove to be another bilingual success along the lines of Instructions Not Included.

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