‘I Carry You with Me’ Movie Review: Heavy Lifting [AFI FEST]

If movies teach us anything, it’s that there’s no love without sacrifice. Often, one partner perishes in a true love story. In cases like Titanic or Gone with the Wind, there’s a massive disaster or a war along with the whirlwind romance. I Carry You with Me is based on the true story of Iván and Gerardo, and offers a poignant reminder that not all romantic tragedy is fiction. 

Boy meets boy in ‘I Carry You with Me’

I Carry You with Me begins as a lush romance. Iván (Armando Espitia) and Gerardo (Christian Vazquez) meet in a club and go for a walk to really talk. They really get to know each other, but there are complications. 

I Carry You With Me
L-R: Armando Espitia and Christian Velazquez | Sony Pictures Classics

Iván has a child with a woman, and he won’t tell her he’s gay because she’d take his son away. There are some heartbreaking moments between Iván and his ex and his family over their intolerance of gays, plus his son doesn’t understand why any of this is happening. 

‘I Carry You with Me’ to America

Iván makes the difficult decision to go to America where he and Gerardo can live openly. It means leaving his family, most of all his son, completely behind. What follows is a very difficult illegal border crossing. 

Then Iván has to live alone in the U.S. for a long time until Gerardo can find a way to join him. The separation is hard for both of them. Then red tape holds up their reunion even longer. 

Pick your persecution 

Even when both Iván and Gerardo are living in America, it appears they’ve only traded one form of persecution for another. Parts of America may be more tolerant of gay people than Mexico was in their day, but those parts of America can be just as intolerant of immigrants. 

Both Iván and Gerardo knew what they were getting into when they decided to emigrate. They knew they would not be able to return to Mexico, but that doesn’t make it easy.

Even after years, when Iván has made good by establishing a restaurant that employs Americans, he can’t travel to Mexico to visit ailing family. Then he’d never be allowed back to see Gerardo again and the immigration agents won’t forgive any past crimes. Iván and Gerardo had to pick the persecution they could live with, which only illustrates how both cultures need to be more tolerant. 

I Carry You with Me is an epic life story spanning period piece to modern day New York. Time weighs on the characters as they experience more separation and longing, but those trials are mitigated by heartwarming moments together as well. I Carry You with Me joins the pantheon of love stories amid turmoil. Hopefully one day the human condition can just favor love over conflict.