Deficit drops you directly into a day in the life of an upper-class, college-aged brat in a posh suburban neighborhood outside of Mexico City. Gael Garcia Bernal directs, as well as stars as the main character, Cristobal, and as the film opens we see him driving over rundown streets with a friend, a quizzical expression on his face, giving off the vibe that we're about to enter some kind of crime drama. In a way, we are -- there are hints and accusations peppered throughout that perhaps Cristobal's father is some kind of drug lord, but Bernal isn't interested in bringing these things to the forefront. Instead, he confines any possible backstory to the whispers of the servants, who are both frightened of their employers and in awe of them. One of them, Anan, a dark-skinned Mexican of Indian descent played by Tenoch Huerta Mejia, is propped up as something of a rival to Cristobal even though they are worlds apart. He endures racist snickering and even slurs by the houseguests and zeroes in on one upper-class girl who has captured his attention.

While Anan is pining away and seething at his own poverty, Cristobal is suffering from a more lightweight concern -- his girlfriend, Mafer (Ana Serradilla) is on her way to the pool party, but has gotten lost and needs precise directions in order to get there. The problem is that Cristobal has met someone else at the party, Dolores (Luz Cipriota) and doesn't want Mafer showing up at all. There's a lot of comedy in this film, mixed in and surrounding the overall class tensions and underlying current of criminality, and it's to the credit of Bernal that it all meshes together so well. When dramatic events present themselves, such as Cristobal's receiving a rejection letter from Harvard in the mail, the film doesn't linger on them or turn them into grist for a debate or an argument, it simply acknowledges and moves on. As I watched Deficit at a recent screening, I noticed the audience members paying very close attention, undoubtedly because they had no idea where this film was going but were intrigued by the possibilities.