To see someone you love in pain isn’t easy. To see them suffer through addiction, trying to get themselves back up again and again with little to no success is devastating. And to do this while at the same time documenting their journey at every step is nothing short of disheartening. This is exactly what Eva Villaseñor does in her heart-wrenching documentary M. She takes us into the life of her brother Miguel Ángel Villaseñor, who is best known as Aguascalientes based rapper TankeOne.
We see Miguel’s life through his personal relationships, musical performances, and encounters with the police; but it is his journey to sobriety takes center stage in this film. The film begs the question: how to survive the not only the world but also yourself? Villaseñor’s brother grapples with this question as he deals with a battle against addiction and depression—on top of this, as one of the pioneers of hardcore Mexican rap, his livelihood revolves around that of violence, drugs, and machismo, making it hard at times to keep himself afloat. There’s a moment in the documentary that even he makes note of the difference between “Tanke” and “Miguel” and how he wants to choose Miguel.
In just under 50 minutes we get some of the most deeply personal moments of Miguel’s life. As his sister and director, Villaseñor is able to produce meaningful intimacy. One of the most heartbreaking moments of the documentary is when we are witnesses to Miguel hitting rock bottom. And although we don’t see the exchange we hear his inebriated proclamations of shame and admittance of daily suicidal thoughts. As we hear Villaseñor’s tears are heard from behind the camera, we are reminded of the deep personal connection she has to her subject and that sometimes in exploration of some human truth we are confronted with the adversities of existence.
M is a powerful portrayal of the reality of human behavior, it gives breadth and depth to its complexities—showing us that making our way through the labyrinth of life is never easy. Sometimes we are left to wonder where we are and how do we go from there, but it is in those moments that we show what we are made of.