Midaq Alley (El callejon de los milagros)

Director: Jorge Fons
Screenwriters: Vicente Lenero, Naguib Mahfouz

Institute History

  • 1996 Sundance Film Festival


Jorge Fons has crafted a masterful epic of love and betrayal among the working-class-and-below denizens of Midaq Alley. Through a sophisticated structure of parallel stories, the film attains overlapping, frequently divergent perspectives and enough melodrama to satisfy audiences. Fons’s direction imbues the sadly inevitable conclusion with a rare compassion. Leñero’s intelligent script and dark cinematography solicit our empathetic involvement in the characters’ fate.

Stories of star-crossed lovers and mistaken identity get new twists. Rutilio is the homophobic patriarch whose bluster is a cover for the sexual desires he’s kept secret. Susanita, the spinster of widely coveted wealth, is less shrewd where men are concerned. Penniless barber Abel jeopardizes his love for beautiful Alma by his fealty to old-fashioned notions of male honor and friendship. Alma cannot wait for his return and meets her ruin at the hands of a man who is exactly his opposite: immoral, wealthy, and eminently available.

Jorge Fons extends his reach culturally and transforms Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz’s novel into a distinctively Mexican soap opera. Fons’s Midaq Alley is wide ranging, but its finely nuanced attention to the details of emotional life makes it an immensely rewarding treatment of human weakness.

— B. Ruby Rich

Screening Details

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