The look of an actor we love. The look of Gael García Bernal.
The look of an actor we love. The look of Gael García Bernal. SIFF FIlms

I'm so glad Gael García Bernal is in this world even if You're Killing Me Susana doesn't add up the way it should. After the success of 2000's Amores Perros, Bernal could've left Spanish-language cinema behind for Hollywood. Instead he's found a way to combine the two. In Roberto Sneider's third feature, he returns to Mexico for the serio-comic tale of Eligio, a libidinous actor whose wife, Susana (Verónica Echegui), walks out of his life without a word. At first, Eligio returns to his work on a low-rent soap opera, thinking she'll come back at any moment. Then, he notices her abandoned cell phone, so he makes like a detective, and when he finds out she's gone to a writer's workshop in Iowa, he sets out to win her back, a quest complicated by a brooding Pole and a preponderance of snow.

Bernal doesn't dig as deep here as he did in Y Tu Mamá También or Bad Education, since this is a comparatively lighter film. Eligio plays more like a cousin to his lovable goofball in The Science of Sleep, which makes his performance worth watching, though it's unfortunate that Sneider's adaption of José Agustín's novel finds Susana's infidelity more problematic than Eligio's and that his commitment to the male gaze—the camera work caresses the female form and ignores the male—prioritizes his humanity over hers. A missed opportunity.

You're Killing Me Susana opens at SIFF Film Center on Fri March 18.