¿Y Cómo Es Él? has a premise that cleverly melds cringe comedy with emotional resonance. Its central figure is Tomás (Mauricio Ochmann), a guy experiencing a significant personal crisis. His wife Marcia (Zuria Vega) has been having an affair with another man. That man is a cab driver named Jero (Omar Chaparro). Faking a job interview, Tomás goes to Puerto Vallarta for a confrontation. The plan does not work out the way he envisioned it, and he winds up in an unsuspecting Jero's taxi heading back to Mexico City. From there, the story tracks what happens as they make the several hundred-mile trek together.
A lot of humor comes from the sheer awkwardness of that scenario. Tomás tries to figure out how to get revenge on Jero without tipping his hand as to his identity. There are funny scenes of him fantasizing about killing his wife's lover in over-the-top ways. The odd-couple interactions between the men are funny, too. Jero is an unrepentant playboy, the kind of guy who takes pride in bedding as many women as he can. Tomás comically fumes at the idea that the cabbie not only slept with his wife, but apparently had no real investment in it. Jero, meanwhile, doesn't understand why his passenger is so uptight and tries to loosen him up, at one point even taking him to a brothel for some “fun.”
Laughs come regularly in ¿Y Cómo Es Él?, thanks to the wacky misadventures the men have and the off-kilter chemistry Ochmann and Chaparro generate. Admirably, though, the movie expands on the possibilities of its premise, digging deeper into who both characters are. Stuck in the cab together, the guys can't avoid opening up to each other. Tomás gradually exposes the insecurities and feelings of inadequacy that have negatively impacted his marriage. He's angry at Jero, while still realizing it's mostly his own fault that Marcia strayed. On his end, Jero slowly reveals the reasons why he has such a love-'em-and-leave-'em approach to romance. He isn't quite the pathetic lothario he initially seems to be, and Tomás starts to view him differently, as do we.
Fleshing out the characters that way adds depth to the story. In the second half, Marcia is developed more, as well. Tomás and Jero call her at various times during the trek, allowing us to grasp the dynamic both men have with her. (She has no idea they know each other, adding an additional layer of comedy, especially when they call her simultaneously.) Marcia has regrets about the affair, yet feels trapped in a marriage that hasn't been working for some time. Introducing her own dilemma – rather than making her a stereotypical cheating spouse – seals the deal, allowing ¿Y Cómo Es Él? to offer poignant insights into the root causes of marital infidelity.
At times, the comedy in the movie goes a little too broad, especially in the last act, which contains a subplot involving bad guys who are chasing Jero. That brings in a car chase and a couple sequences of gunplay that feel fundamentally at odds with the more relatable tone of everything else. The manner in which that predicament resolves itself is too convenient to be realistic. Director Ariel Winograd and writer Paul Fruchbom are clearly trying to make Jero's arc complete, although what he learns about himself comes far more from seeing Tomás's strife than it does from the crime angle.
Thankfully, most of ¿Y Cómo Es Él? focuses on the three people stuck in this romantic triangle. Each of them changes substantially over the course of the film. Witnessing how they change and learn things about themselves – and each other – is compelling. I laughed a lot, then felt moved at the end, thanks to the smart screenplay and the excellent performances from the central trio. The movie's final shot is absolute perfection, providing a sense of optimism that sends you away feeling good inside.
out of four
¿Y Como Es El? is rated PG-13 for sexual material throughout, language and some violence. The running time is 1 hour and 35 minutes.