ByD RunYear: 2015
Director: A.D. Freese
Writer(s): Andrew Perez
Rating: N/A
Digital, Color, 99 mins

Synopsis: Two estranged half-brothers adventure together through Colombia to fulfill their dead father’s will and connect with their family, their father’s homeland, and – ultimately – each other. (Source)

There’s a unique camaraderie that’s forged through death. The passing of a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences that life can throw at us, but it can also create a sense of solidarity and familial responsibility to those left behind, who must endure together. A.D. Freese’s Bastards Y Diablos explores this concept with a relationship between two half-brothers, Eduardo and Dion, as they fulfill their father’s wish of spreading his ashes across important places in his life. Their journey takes them to Colombia as they get in touch with their family, culture, and ultimately, each other.

Right off the bat, the chemistry between the film’s two leads, Andrew Perez’s Eduardo and Dillon Porter’s Dion, is off the charts. From the opening sequence where the estranged duo meet at an airport, we get the sense that these two couldn’t care less about each other. As the film progresses, the actors’ rapport becomes palpable and we can feel their bonds becoming tighter and tighter. Perez is great as the awkward dork that is trying his best to keep up with the much more commanding Dion. It also helps that Perez (who also wrote the script) has crafted a simple enough plot which allows the complex performances of both performers to breathe and shine.

To bring these characters’ world together, cinematographer Peter Grigsby offers some unbelievably beautiful visuals, perfect for a film about life’s mysterious and intangible beauty. The colors, even at night are vibrant, rich, and full of character. An amazing scene finds Eduardo talking to his cousin Jairo (Rubén Arciniegas) at a nightclub. Jairo speaks of current events and the personality traits he sees between Eduardo and his father. “The world is terrible… The world is beautiful. I want to see it as it is.” Grigsby’s poetic photography in this scene relates both of those things. With shot glasses lifted, all but Jairo’s eyes are blurry within the frame, and at the same time, the colors of the club are vibrant. Grigsby captures that very statement within the context of the scene.

ByD ashSymbolically, the brothers are taking a journey, discovering themselves and each other as they cross Colombia, visiting places important to their father. To aid in their journey is some beyond superb direction by A. D. Freese. The most important thing for any road story is to sell the journey, and Freese creates a raw synergy between the environment and performances that is authentic and powerful. It’s rare that a film can balance exciting, accessible entertainment and still be as artful as this one is – its intimacy and scope are a pleasure to watch in every way.

With two of the year’s best performances in Perez and Dillion and Freese’s affecting direction, Bastards Y Diablos is a beautiful film. Freese and writer Perez have touched upon the inextricable nature of life and death – their opposing nature and also the necessity of both to balance each other out. It’s a film that is mature and full of grace.