Canadian-Columbian filmmaker Juan Andrés Arango (La Playa DC) spins a solid trio of related, but not interlocking tales of outsiders learning how to cope with criminal elements and tendencies in their impoverished new homelands.
Taking place in three different countries, X Quinientos tells of the experiences of three young men and women: David (Bernardo Garnica Cruz), Alex (Jonathan Diaz Angulo, the biggest standout here), and Maria (Jembie Almazan). David has left his indigenous homeland following the death of his parents to take a job working construction in Mexico City, where he stays with his gang affiliated cousin, and is torn between his desire to join the gang for his own safety or following his own path by getting into the punk rock scene through some new friends. David has been deported from the United States back to Columbia where he wants to go legit and become a fisherman, but he’s brought back into gang life via circumstance and because his little brother is in danger of becoming a thug. Maria has just relocated from The Philippines to Montreal to live with her estranged grandmother, and her rebellion comes in the form of trying to impress some fellow Filipino teens obsessed with Latin American gangsta culture.
Since the overlap here is only thematic in nature, only two out of three of the stories here hit with the intended urgency, with Maria’s tale blending into the background until the climax of her arc. Despite that, X Quinientos is a film that has a lot to say about the outsider experience, and Arango has created three capable audience surrogates who can only figure things out about themselves as fast as the audience can. The film depicts gang life and how young people try to impress others as a sadly necessary means to an end, and the film acts as a well made morality tale depicting how that could all go terribly wrong.