While the narrative might sag occasionally, I’m No Longer Here (Netflix) is nonetheless a gorgeous, evocative slice-of-life drama about standing out and fitting in.
This review of I’m No Longer Here is spoiler-free. The film debuted on Netflix on May 27, 2020.
Despite the reputation Netflix might get for execrable films like The Wrong Missy, the streaming giant is nonetheless capable of releasing original films that are gorgeous, evocative, and powerful. The latest to make this argument is writer/director Fernando Frias de le Parra’s I’m No Longer Here, or Ya no estoy aqui, a compelling slice-of-life drama chronicling young lives in a state of flux.
While the film might occasionally feel its length, it boasts a strong sense of style, musicality, and vibrancy; its lived-in setting is observed by cinematographer Damian Garcia in interested long takes, the way one might study a rare species. The city of Monterrey seems home to a few – teenagers, played by real ones with no previous credits, boasting inexplicable haircuts and floating through their environment in dance-happy cliques.
The extent to which these teenagers, most specifically the 17-year-old leader of the “Terkos”, Ulises (Juan Daniel Garcia Treviño), both belong to and yearn to break free from this environment forms the crux of a time-and-space-hopping plot that traces Ulises, his very name redolent of epic adventure, from his neighborhood all the way to Queens, New York, where he strikes up a friendship with 16-year-old Lin (Angelina Chen).
I’m No Longer Here strikes a balance between reveling in the moment and exploring how it came to be. The script punctuates violence and stress with moments of understated sweetness. The sense of culture shock and alienation is deeply felt; that lurching change from being a big fish in a small pond to a tiny fish in a huge one. The film’s rich detail and authentic portrayal of a young life suddenly uprooted and replanted are powerful elements in an affecting, artful teen drama.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.