Bad Habits (2007)

Director:  Simon Bross
Cast:  Ximena AyalaElena de HaroMarco Antonio Treviño
Plot:  Intertwining stories of abuse, adultery, and anorexia center around a family in Mexico City.

Genre:  Drama
Awards:  -
Runtime:  103min
Rating:  M18 for sexual content, nudity, and some coarse language.


Simon Bross is the newest kid in town.  He is one of the latest in line to join the impressive contingent of semi-independent Mexican filmmakers which includes Guillermo Del Toro, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and Alfonso Cuaron.  Unfortunately, he sucks.  I’m sorry Simon, but film critics sometimes are bastards.

Bad Habits is the kind of film that has the potential to be a cult hit, something along the mould of Inarritu's Amores Perros (2000) or Cuaron's Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001), yet not only does it not meet expectations, it even fails at the lowest level of cinematic excellence - entertainment. 

Bad Habits exposes Bross' inability to make an engaging film.  Even at a compact hundred minutes, the film feels longer than Gone with the Wind (1939) and Titanic (1997) combined.  The subject material is interesting, but there is a severe lack in content.  

Bross is heavily reliant on style rather than story.  And he pays the price for not providing discerning viewers with food for thought.  Ironically, the theme that is explored in Bad Habits is about food and how it affects people's lives and attitudes.

Just like Inarritu's 21 Grams (2003) and Amores Perros, Bad Habits is a singular film exploring the interconnecting lives of three different persons.  Here, an obese child is forced to reduce her weight by her mother who does not know that she herself is exhibiting signs of anorexia; the child's father begin to seek regular sex from a buxomly woman because his wife is too thin to give him pleasure; a nun begins to fast in the name of faith in order to prevent a second great flood. 

The production design of the film is somewhat commendable, with a heavy feel of Gothicism and religious undertones.  There are instances though in which these elements become too dense for viewers to appreciate.  Combine that with the inadequate analytical content that Bross has neglected to provide, and viewers are faced with the prospect of a hundred minutes of yawning.

In retrospect, Bross should have added more dynamism to the narrative construct of the film.  An example is to re-write a meatier version of the screenplay spruced up with more dialogue between characters.  I wouldn't mind revisiting Bad Habits again if there's a director's cut in the near future. But for now, Bad Habits is a startling reminder that not all foreign films are 'award-winning gems' that distributors like to make them out to be.  Stay clear please.

GRADE: F (4/10 or 1.5 stars)

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