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Film / Midaq Alley

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Midaq Alley ("El callejón de los milagros"—"miracle alley") is a 1995 film from Mexico directed by Jorge Fons.

It's about the lives and relationships of the people who live in and around the eponymous alley in Mexico City. The film is structured into four segments.

  • "Rutilio": Don Rutilio aka "Don Ru" is a man in late middle age, owner of the Local Hangout cantina. Despite being married for thirty-odd years and the father of three children, it turns out that Don Ru is a homosexual. He begins an affair with a much younger man from a clothing store, to the humiliation of his wife Eusebia and the rage of his hotheaded son Chava.
  • "Alma": Alma (Salma Hayek, in one of her first film roles) is a resident of the apartment building adjoining Midaq Alley and the cantina. She is shockingly gorgeous, but also a virgin and looking for love. Chava's friend Abel, who aspires to open a barbershop, is determinedly wooing Alma, but she is hesitant.
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  • "Susanita": Susanita owns the apartment building where most of the characters live. She's 20 years or so older than Alma but is also lonely and looking for love. This segment is somewhat shorter.
  • "The Return": Chava, who had to leave Mexico in a hurry due to the events of "Rutilio", makes a happy return a couple of years later, accompanied by a wife and a newborn son. However, things have not worked out as well for Alma or Abel.



  • Age-Gap Romance: A relatively uncommon gender-flipped version. 26-year-old Guicho gets married to Susanita, who looks 20 years older than that. It seems like a transactional relationship but they're both happy with it—until Susanita catches him stealing from her, that is.
  • And Starring: Hayek is credited with "Presentacion estelar de", literally "feature presentation of", but probably better idiomatically translated as "And Featuring". (She was a star of Mexican soap operas, in one of her first big movie roles.)
  • Armored Closet Gay: Don Ru is hostile and offensive when he sees his son hanging out with Abel, saying that they look like a couple of queers. Soon after he's revealed to be gay.
  • The Bear: Burly, hairy, fifty-ish Don Ru, who winds up carrying on an affair with a smooth-faced boy half his age.
  • But Liquor Is Quicker: Alma does this to herself in "Alma". She takes some long and deep puffs on Abel's joint in an obvious effort to loosen up, before she asks him to take her virginity.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: After Jose stabs Abel several times in the gut, Alma helps him out of the brothel. She then cradles him in her arms as he bleeds out and dies.
  • Distant Finale: The first three segments are roughly contiguous with each other—Alma sits in the window in all three. The fourth segment doesn't specify how much time has passed, but it was time enough for Chava to sneak into the United States, get a job in San Diego, get married, and have a son.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Abel gets blind drunk upon coming home and finding out that the woman he loves has become a prostitute.
  • Edgy Backwards Chair-Sitting: Chava does this when he's trying to intimidate his father's young pretty boy lover. It works, as the young man leaves the cantina.
  • Fan Disservice: Some full frontal nudity from overweight, hairy Don Ru as he cavorts in the shower with his young twink lover. Becomes even more disservice when Chava barges into the shower room fully clothed and smashes the boy's skull against the wall.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Alma is so hot that even a gay man notices, as Don Ru says "Man, she is developing into something else!"
  • High-Class Call Girl: What Alma becomes, when Abel's is away in America and Don Fidel drops dead. Her pimp, Jose, calls the job "courtesan" and draws a specific distinction between courtesans and streetwalkers. Interestingly, she is not forced or coerced into it. When she realizes just what's going on at the mansion where Jose lives, he lets her go home. She comes back out of her own free will, seemingly driven by boredom and loneliness.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Poor Fidel is just fifteen days away from marrying young, smoking hot Alma, when out of nowhere he has a heart attack and dies at the cantina while playing dominoes.
  • Hookers and Blow: Does Jose have a mirror speckled with cocaine in his room? Of course he does. And when Alma and Abel have their tragic reunion she is snorting coke in the brothel lounge.
  • King of the Homeless: Zacarias, the grimy older man who plays dominoes in the cantina, is described as "the beggar king". Sure enough, he is revealed to be the commander of an army of beggars and street performers, all of whom pay him tribute, mob boss style.
  • Meet Cute: Guicho and Susanita first meet when he stalks out of an ugly argument with Don Ru, crashes into her, and goes tumbling down the stairs.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Salma Hayek in tight dress after tight dress after tight dress, as well as multiple shots of Alma sitting in the window, displaying her legs for Abel below.
  • Old Maid: Unmarried, childless Susanita gives off this vibe strongly enough that Dona Cata asks if she's a virgin. She isn't, apparently, but she's definitely lonely for a man.
  • Once per Episode: Each segment is introduced with a scene of all the old men playing dominoes at Don Ru's cantina.
  • Perspective Flip: Some scenes are repeated, especially in the first and second stories. In the first story, Abel gawks as Alma sits in the window, letting her skirt fall back as she shows some leg. The second story reveals that she did this on purpose to excite him. In the first story, Abel is canoodling with Alma on the roof when Chava bursts in, calling for help; the second story reveals that they were smoking marijuana together and he was about to have sex with her when Chava ruined the moment.
  • Serenade Your Lover: The tragedy of the last 20 minutes starts rolling when Abel comes home from the USA, with a mariachi band to serenade Alma, only to find her gone.
  • Staircase Tumble: Guicho goes barreling into Susanita, then tumbling down the stairs, which causes him to both skin and wrench his knee. This gives Susanita an excuse to take him into her apartment, take his pants off, and feel him up.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Don Ru beats Eusebia after she reveals his homosexuality to Ubaldo.