“I Carry You With Me” Movie Review

I never took the time to consider my mother’s enormous sacrifice leaving her country, her family, and her life until I saw “I Carry You With Me,” a film that gave me an additional layer of perception. 

“I Carry You With Me” (2020), follows Ivan’s (Armando Espitia) journey from growing up in Mexico to immigrating to the United States to pursue his dreams. Brilliantly utilizing a hybrid genre storytelling approach of documentary/non-fiction storytelling, director Heidi Ewing exposes audiences to realism and an additional level of stakes. This film expands on the conventional immigrant story.  . 

After living in New York for the past 20 years, Ivan hopes to return to Mexico to see his family, especially his son, but due to his migratory status, his options are limited. In addition to seeking an opportunity to put his culinary skills to work, Ivan also flees a homophobic conservative town. Ivan isn’t fully out as a gay man partly due to fear that he would not be allowed to spend time with his son if the mother were to find out. Ivan meets Gerardo (Christian Vázquez) in a gay club, where both instantly have a connection. Progressively both men fall in love but their relationship is tested when Ivan leaves Mexico to the United States. By using close up shots we’re invited to an intimate view of these characters, engrossing viewers to become invested in this couple. 

Ivan with his son (photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

We normally witness a reason for people to leave their home country which then motivates them to continue their journey to the destination. More often than not, we’re not given a complex view of the sacrifices that an immigrant experiences. It’s far more rare to explore the difficulties many encounter as they attempt to obtain a visa to legally cross the border. The requirements are insanely biased which are likely structured and implemented to benefit the wealthy. Another thing this movie does is challenges the stereotypical image of the undocumented immigrant. Restaurant owners and main chefs aren’t necessarily what come to mind when reading or hearing the term “undocumented immigrant.” 

My mother immigrated to the United States in 1985 to chase the “American Dream.” She’d tell me stories about crossing the border and navigating a foreign land. Numerous instances she’d be humiliated for not speaking English, not having a high school diploma or degree and being undocumented. 

The many layers the characters in “I Carry you with Me” inhabit parallels to the title of this film. A title that can have multiple meanings left open for interpretation. Ultimately this story left me contemplating whether or not the magnitude of the sacrifices are worth taking if it means no longer being able to physically see family members. Chasing a dream comes with its setbacks where most of the time many immigrants are forced to rely on memories. Memories from back home, the taste of certain foods, the smell of specific locations, and fun times with family and friends. Memories that can easily transform into dreams. Overall, “I Carry you with Me” is a beautiful depiction of dreams, love, sacrifice, humanity and hope.