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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Los Angeles of My Broken Heart: Pocha Mobility in México de mi corazón and Del otro lado del puente

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 3.0 license

Representations of “pocho/a” (Chican@) experience are complicated not only by relations of dependency and domination between the United States and Mexico, but also by colonial legacies and histories. At the heart of this relational dynamic is the question of agency, which manifests itself in film in part through the ability of characters to articulate their subjectivity to others. This paper will address how representations of speech acts capture the contradictions of Mexican American identity in two Mexican films,Mexico de mi Corazon(1964) andDel otro lado del Puente(1979). Both films share Los Angeles as a setting and both feature popular Mexican ranchera singer Lucha Villa. Portraying a young vibrant pocha singer in the earlier film, Villa has a more circumscribed role inDel otro lado del Puenteas the mother of Berto (played by flamboyant Mexican musical icon Juan Gabriel). As Berto unearths his family history, he discovers that his mother is brain dead in a mental hospital. Catatonic and speechless, Berto’s mother is unable to recover the trauma of having had to support her children and drug habit with sex work after her husband left the family to fight in the Second World War. Villa’s performance inDel otro lado del Puentecan be read as a critical reinterpretation of earlier optimistic portrayals of Mexican American identity. How does communicative agency in these films reflect perceived shifts in economic and social possibilities for Chican@ mobility in Los Angeles?

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