By Isabel Vega
The newly released Netflix original film written and directed by Gerardo Gatica, “Tell Me When,” (Spanish: “Dime Cuándo Tú”) had its debut on the streaming service on April 21. The plot follows a workaholic and Mexican-American, Will, who decides to go ahead with the plans his late grandfather made to help him discover his roots and heritage in Mexico. “Tell Me When” stars Jesús Zavala as Will, Ximena Romo as Dani (Will’s love interest), Verónica Castro and José Carlos Ruiz. The romantic comedy was already released in Mexico late last year.
What was supposed to be a feel-good romantic comedy offered a very steady emotion of disappointment and confusion throughout its 95-minute duration.
Starting with the beginning of the film, we see Will’s grandfather writing a bucket list of all the historic landmarks in Mexico that he wants his grandson to see in preparation for Will’s surprise birthday party. The bucket list is meant to be a birthday gift for Will, who comes into the party after getting a promotion at work. Will is characterized as socially awkward and unable to make natural conversation with friends and family members. Will is seen glued to his phone during the entirety of his party, after sharing the news of his promotion and sulking in the corner the rest of the night.
The following morning, his grandfather wakes him up telling him they need to take a drive — but it is never specified where — suddenly the two are in the middle of a desert as the grandfather lectures Will about how work isn't everything and tells him he should visit Mexico. Will is seen walking away with his back turned to his grandfather, rambling on about how he's “going to become something.” Suddenly, the camera pans out and Will’s grandfather collapses to the sand with absolutely no prior indication that he had any sort of health problems or any specification on the cause of death.
Will returns home from the funeral and finds the bucket list his grandfather made in his office. He decides to book a trip to Mexico to honor his grandfather’s dying wish. There, he rents a space above Dani’s apartment, who turns out to be the granddaughter of Will’s grandmother’s friend. This relation was not specified or clear until the end of the movie, so that dynamic felt wasteful and unnecessary. Dani, of course, thinks Will is strange as he is unable to make any normal conversation with her. However, she takes him under her wing to help him complete his bucket list out of the goodness of her heart alongside her GBF (gay best friend) Beto (Gabriel Nuncio) who provides some comedic relief.
Beto picks up on Will’s attraction for Dani and decides to help him win her heart. He decides the best way to help Will date Dani is by feeding Will fake information about the things that she likes. This was intended to be funny, but instead was embarrassing as it was already hard enough watching Will interact with and impress Dani. Dani shares with Will that she was engaged to a man by the name of Javier for a few years, but he broke her heart. Will becomes insecure and believes that Dani does not want to be more than friends with him in fear that Javier is still in the picture, which he has no evidence for at all.
Out of nowhere, Javier arrives at Dani’s door with a bouquet of flowers and is invited in to chat. Viewers have absolutely no idea why Javier is there or what him and Dani had to say to one another. Of course, Will sees this and assumes the worst — he binge drinks, trashes his rental and calls Dani a master manipulator… smooth.
In the midst of this obviously not-thought-out climax, Dani has written Will a note, but tore it in half after Will verbally assaults her for no reason at all. Will catches flight back to L.A. and mopes around his house, refusing to key anyone in on his experience.
Back in Mexico, Beto finds the note Dani wrote. Beto decides to actually be helpful this time, and puts it back together and sends it to Dani’s grandmother who, shockingly, also lives in L.A. She shares the note with Will’s grandmother, who gives it to Will. What was said in this note is never revealed to viewers, but it was enough to get Will hurrying back to Mexico to confess his feelings and apologize. He tells Dani he wants her in his life whether it’s as a friend or lover. Dani gives no response, instead the camera cuts to the two in an ice cream shop and the music and rolling credits begin.
On top of a ridiculously impossible to follow plotline, the actors are speaking over an English voice-over, so their lips are not at all matching the words. The English subtitles also do not match the English script, making this film even more unbearable.
If you’re looking for a funny, heartwarming, romantic comedy on a Friday night, definitely skip “Tell Me When.”