<i>Without a Trace</i> was born of Maria Novaro's mischievous and fertile imagination: it's a woman's road movie in which Ana, a sophisticated smuggler of pre-Columbian art, teams up with Aurelia, a single mother who is more concerned with diapers than archeology. As reluctant accomplices in flight from the law and outlaws, they travel from Mexico's dusty northern border to the lush tropical landscape of Yucatán in the south while they unravel each other's lies and motives. .
Maria Novaro wrote and directed this tale of two fugitives with an intelligent, wry wit, serving up surprises at every turn of the wheel. There is Mendizábal, the delicious villain played by veteran actor Jesús Ochoa, a detective whose sexual politics get in the way of his investigative zeal; the jilted lover—a man scorned, for a change—and his fury for revenge; the Maya Indians, contemplating the antics of the urbanites with bemused wisdom; and then there are the demands of a hungry baby.
Set to a dazzling display of Mexican music, which forms its own subtext and commentary in the film, <i>Without a Trace</i> puts two women firmly in charge of their destiny, without sentimentality and without surrendering an inch of their well-earned liberation. Aitana Sánchez-Gijón and Tiaré Scanda bring this pair to life, completing a quartet of memorable women in Novaro's distinguished film career that began with Lola and Danzón and continued with The Garden of Eden, which screened at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival.
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