I saw La ley de Herodes ( Herod's law) , yesterday. It is one of the best Mexican films I have seen. It is a political comedy about the Mexican way , the Instituional Revolutionary Party(PRI) and the political system which corrupts the rest of the society.
It is the story of Vargas ( played by Damian Alcazar), a small time municipal worker and PRI party member, who is made as the Mayor of a small, isolated, desert town of San Pedro de los Saguaros whose main inhabitants are native Indians. PRI sends him to implement the President's programme of Modernisation and Social Justice. Vargas starts his job as an idealist, resisting attempts by others to corrupt him. But there is no money in the treasury since his predecessors had stolen all the money and sold off even the doors and windos of the local school. Vargas becomes a laughing stock with his innocent crusading spirit against corruption. Vargas goes back to his superior seeking resources and advice. The boss gives him a gun and a copy of the constituition and says that Vargas should use/misuse these to manage. The boss tells Vargas the Herode's law- "fuck or get fucked." Vargas tries and becomes corrupt and then corruption takes him over completely. He becomes a ruthless political animal, misusing his authority, extorting money from every one and killing those opposed to him. In the end, he becomes a congress deputy and gives a lofty address to the Congress.
For those following mexican politics, this is real life story, although exaggerated and comical. It brings out the corruption, crude manipulations, paternalism and impunity. When the film was about to be released in 1999, the government of Mexico ( under PRI rule) was said to have tried to stop the film unsuccessfully. It is a coincidence that PRI lost the elections in 2000 for the first time since 1930.
Luis Estrada, the Director has a political message in this film in this satirical. hilarious but powerful film. He has used all the Mexican and Latin American ingredients: tequila, puteria ( brothel), gringo ( American ) who tries to take the mexican for a ride ( and the mexican's wife also for a real ride !), corrupt priest, native Indians who do not speak Spanish and are on the margins of the society and the complex bureaucratic system.