Deadly Connections in ‘My Time Will Come’

“You need to have connections. Even to enter heaven, you need connections,” utters Dr Arturo Fernandez (Manuel Calisto Sanchez) as he ponders his estranged relationship with his brother Jorge (Juan Martin Cueva), but it’s clear he’s also considering his own lack of relationship to the world of the living as a whole in director Victor Arregui’s My Time Will Come (Cuando Me Toque a Mi — which is more accurately translated as When My Time Comes). That time, the film eventually demonstrates, is death.

Unlike his alienated father (Teodoro Gonzalez), who was a doctor who saved lives, Arturo spends his days as the medical examiner in the Eugenio Espejo Hospital morgue in Quito, Ecuador’s capitol. His life is spent among corpses — “The dead keep me company,” he admits in one poignant moment — separated from any meaningful bond with any living, breathing human. His only other friend, it seems, is alcohol, as Arturo is shown at work perpetually downing shots of vodka, similar to Caceres (Ramiro Logrono), the film’s secondary protagonist, who simply wanders the city drinking and popping pills … after he murders a man for pocket change in the film’s predawn first scene.

Ironically, Arturo’s vocation makes him the focal point — or, better put, the final destination — of the numerous victims, whose lives are all in some fashion interconnected by the violent activity in the city surrounding him. Thus, his pessimistic and cynical nature becomes both a statement and embodiment of the despair plaguing Ouito and, in turn, the entire nation of Ecuador, in which the innocent are repeatedly preyed upon by thugs and a generally uncaring populace. This is seen, for example, when eight-year-old Carlos (Erick Chiriboga) (whose father Caceres murdered in the aforementioned opening scene), becomes the victim of a hit-and-run, or when newly arrived Wilfrido (Lalo Santi) is hoodwinked into participating in a home invasion (itself resulting in the rape and murder of an innocent girl) and is then left behind when shot to death by an intervening bystander. And, of course, the hapless cabbie, Campos (Josa Alvear), whose taxi is hijacked by the runaway gang, also winds up in Arturo’s plutonian care.

Arregui ensures the reflection of this general malaise by draining the film of any vibrancy or color. Practically every scene is an exercise in demonstrating how many variations of gray and bluish hues can convey a sense of hopelessness. Even objects in red seem as dark and lifeless as the withering roses seen on Arturo’s desk in his first appearance in the film. The movie’s imagery alone nearly suffocates the viewer with dreariness and despondency.

The only characters who stand in contrast to this gloomy atmosphere are Jorges, whose attempts to reunite his family ultimately fail, mostly as the result of his homosexuality; Carlos’s mother Eulalia (Randi Krarup), who sits hopefully by his bedside as he lies in a coma; and the hospital’s flirtatious new nurse, Alina (Catalina Cardenas), whom Arturo eventually works up the courage to ask out, only to be dejected by his (both literal and figurative) impotency.

My Time Will Come works almost too well in conveying its points about the tragic results of isolation, violence, and death: even life’s only triumph, Carlos’s gradually awakening, is left in doubt, as it’s never shown whether he will overcome the consuming misery of the world outside his hospital room. Ultimately, Arregui succeeds in underscoring the results of Ecuador’s desperate sociological climate on the human soul, although he never provides a solution, aside from the oblivious escape offered by absolute inebriation. Or death.

Adapted from Alfredo Noriega’s novel De Que Nada Se Sabe (Of Whom Nothing Is Known), My Time Will Come is a cinematic achievement from a region of the world whose theatrical talent has been given little spotlight. Deservedly, it was an Official Selection of the Miami International, the Locarno International, and the AFI Latin American Film Festivals of 2008, and the 2007 Biarritz Film Festival granted Sanchez its Best Actor Award.

This internationally recognized film may have gone by unnoticed by American audiences if it wasn’t for the 29 March 2011 release of the subtitled DVD by the Global Film Initiative, which tours and distributes critically acclaimed films from around the world. The DVD essentially contains the film, with scene selection, and special features such as the global trailer and a DVD-ROM-accessible Film Discussion Guide. The DVD may not include all the bells and whistles associated with most home-viewing releases these days, but My Time Will Come’s value as a work of cinematic ingenuity will make it a prized possession of any film aficionado’s library.

RATING 8 / 10