AMERICANO, the feature directorial debut of writer/director/actor Mathieu Demy opens in New York on Friday, June 15 prior to a national rollout. The fictional film draws on some autobiographical references, since Demy is the son of famed filmmakers Agnès Varda and Jacques Demy. In fact, the younger Demy started his film career as a child actor in his mother Agnès Varda’s films, clips of which are included in the film as a kind of memory touchstone. He has made a name for himself over the past several years with starring roles in such acclaimed films as Céline Sciamma’s Tomboy, Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau’s Jeanne and the Perfect Guy, and André Téchiné’s The Girl on the Train.
In AMERICANO, the death of his mother draws a young Frenchman (Demy) back to his childhood home in Los Angeles as he prepares to wrap up his mother’s estate. Things become complicated when he discovers that she was very fond of a woman named Lola (a sultry part played by Mexican actress Salma Hayek), who appears in her will. Martin combs Los Angeles for his mother’s mysterious friend and companion, finding no trace of her. Traumatized at the sight of his mother’s body in the morgue, he drives to Tijuana in search of Lola, thinking she should inherit his mother’s apartment. But in Mexico, truth is a relative thing, and while he finds Lola stripping in a sleazy bar (kudos to Hayek for playing a rather unsympathetic character who is asked to display lots of skin…..no body double here), there is an open question of whether she is the woman she claims to be or whether it is all one large scam.
Aside from its intrigue and sultry atmosphere, AMERICANO is ultimately a deeply moving drama about inheritance and legacy that mixes a fictional narrative about coming to terms with grief with an autobiographical angle of the lost dreams of the actor/director’s true-life filmmaking family. The film features a stellar cast that, perhaps not incidentally, includes the children of famous film personalities — Geraldine Chaplin, Chiara Mastroianni and Demy himself — in addition to Salma Hayek, in the film’s most controversial and revealing role.