Don’t Turn Your Back

New Order (Nuevo orden) 
Stars: Naian Gonzalez Norvind, Diego Boneta, Monica Del Carmen, Fernando Cautle, Dario Yazbek, Eligio Melendez, Enrique Singer and Gustavo Sanchez Parra
Director/Scriptwriter: Michel Franco
Cinematographer: Yves Cape
Les Films d’Ici/Institut Francais/Videocine
Rating: Strong R rating for much violence, suggestive material
Running Length: 88 Minutes
Spanish Language with Subtitles
Grand Jury Prize 2020 at the Venice Film Festival 

The film begins with patients in a hospital being rapidly moved out to another location. There is rioting in the streets and space is needed for the wounded.  Then, we go to building, with walls being splashed with green paint and the sound of gunfire.  Next, we end up at a wedding in a high society neighborhood somewhere in a large Mexican city. The lush home is guarded well and people assume they are safe, happily celebrating with the bride and groom.  From here on, the director takes us on a downward spiral that goes faster and faster  as the unexpected becomes the norm. Cinematography by Yves Cape is partly with a moving camera that brings the audience into the action. There is no composer listed, though you can recognize popular songs and classical music in the background.  

Director Michel Franco (“After Lucia”) presents three stories in this film.  First, are the participants in the wedding that began the film. Second, are people who help other people without thought of gain, and third, are the people who are caught in a trap of power, greed and lawlessness. There is no composer listed for “New Order,” but you can recognize melodies from popular and classical music. The participants in the wedding section are the bride, Marianne (Naian Gonzalez Norvind), and her new husband, Alan (Dario Yazbek.)  Her mother, Rebeca (Lisa Owen) is managing the wedding, with her husband, Ivan (Roberto Medina) by her side. In the background, the street noise becomes annoying and then frightening. Amidst this, comes a former employee, Victor (Enrique Singer) to the door to ask for a cash loan.  His wife is seriously ill and needs immediate surgery. Rebeca gets some money and then sends Enrique away, but in the meantime, Marianne sees him, finds out the problem and offers to help. She goes with Cristian (Fernando Cuautle) an employee as they want to take the sick lady to a hospital and Marianne will pay the bills.  This is where chaos breaks loose in the city. Marianne is captured and held for ransom in a crowded prison with others of the same fate, Cristian and his mother, Marta (Monica del Carmen) are forced to try to work off the ransom money, and back at the rich parents house is death and vandalism.  Who is now in control?  The rebels or the military. People who were happy a few hours ago, are now in a state of shock and their world is upside-down three times over. There are some gruesome scenes here.  Time seems to pass slowly in the prison, but outside, there is a cleaning up of the house, funerals, and a glimpse of what is really happening. You begin to wonder, who is actually in control here, and, as in playing poker, who is the one keeping a straight face? 

The three stories are heart-wrenching, and the first is the wedding participants who came for a party and end up being part of something else.  The second are those who wanted to help someone and become helpless themselves, and the third are those who are forced into helping others for someone else’s gain. In the center of this is money, and how the money travels from one situation to another, almost with a mind of its own. As far as military force in helping the populace, that is a thing of the past. Every man for himself. 

From the beginning of “New Order,” to the end, the audience is caught up in what happens when rioters are out of control and greed becomes part of their persona.  The greed, however, has a source, and the rioters don’t seem to realize just what is afoot here.  This is happening in countries around the world, as one regime becomes weak and another takes hold.  It is a survival of the fittest, but the fittest have to keep looking over their shoulder, too.  


Marie Asner