Rodrigo Reyes has created a strong, beautiful and disturbing film that seems to occupy a genre all its own. . . . 499 deftly weaves brutality with tender beauty, and harsh reality with the realm of dreams.Jim Jarmusch
Eduardo San Juan Breña,
Rodrigo Reyes’s fascinating hybrid film opens with a conquistador who inexplicably finds himself once again in Mexico, 499 years after conquering Tenochtitlán with Hernán Cortez’s army in 1521. He retraces their original journey across Mexico, from Veracruz on the coast through the Sierra Madre to the Aztec capital. But this time he is mute, a reluctant witness to the legacy of the Spanish conquest. He meets real people—grieving mothers, victims of the drug wars, migrants from Central America, Indigenous activists—and in an inner monolog condemns them as savages. It slowly dawns on the soldier that the present-day violence against journalists, activists, and innocent bystanders is a mirror image of the barbarity of the Spanish conquest. For critic Carlos Aguilar, “499 offers a one-of-a-kind meditation on the effect of colonialism, a nightmare and a dream wrapped into one,” as it looks at the ongoing legacy of racism.