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Arturo Ripstein’s and Paz Alicia Garciadiego’s Lucha Reyes and the aesthetics of Mexican abjection


This article explores questions of representation and reception of Arturo Ripstein's biopic La reina de la noche/The Queen of the Night (1994), loosely based on the life of the pioneer Mexican ranchera music performer Lucha Reyes (1906-1944). Reyes created the sound of ranchera singing as we understand it today: simultaneously aggressive, pained, festive. Her troubled and controversial career is examined in light of the film's mixed reception, notably the unfavourable reception in Mexico due to the irreverent treatment of this national icon. The divisive representation of Reyes's alcoholism, mental illness and bisexual lifestyle opens a window into exploring how Reyes's non-conformist agency rubbed uneasily against dominant society. Yet, despite this critical edge, the focus on Reyes as a tragic and abject victim and her rendering as a queer icon register the multiple layers of ambiguity that made the film so problematic for audiences and critics.

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