Abel (wonderfully realised by Christopher Ruiz-Esparza) is a near-mute, psychologically-not-quite-there kid who, after arriving home from a stint at a children's hospital, literally steps into his absent father's shoes to become the household patriarch. The family never challenge Abel and this plays out to suitably comic effect, notably when sister Selene (Geraldine Alejandra) brings home her boyfriend and he's faced with a stern and disapproving 9-year-old. Just as the film threatens to indulge in quirkiness, dramatic tension arrives thanks to dad Anselmo (José Maria Yazpik) coming back into the fold. Soon Abel takes off with younger brother Paul (Ruiz-Esparza's real-life sibling Gerardo) and the runaways find themselves in peril in the outside world.
There are Oedipal currents that bubble over in a bedroom scene with Abel and mother Cécilia, but the director is able to diffuse this awkwardness with two great comic punches - one straight after the 'incident' and another the morning after when Abel announces to the family that he and Cécilia have written to the stork and they'll be having a child. Issues of mental illness, incest and parental abandonment may seem like a recipe for a bleak and downbeat affair, but Luna's offbeat approach and his expert handling of comedy and tragedy pays off. Abel is a small-scale heartbreaking gem.
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