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Review: Through the Plexi-Glass: The Last Days of San Jose (2021)

Through the Plexi-Glass Review


We all have a place we call home, and for many years, the San Jose Motel was the shelter to many of Austin, Texas’ misfits, being the stage of what would become the first step to the gentrification of the South Congress. Liz Lambert was the owner of this motel, known for its high rate of drug abuse, crime and poverty, and she developed strong friendships with the tenants. Trying to help them rather than expel them for no good cause, Liz tried her best to bring the inhabitants of San Jose together, even if later she will eventually need to evict them so that the motel could receive its long due renewal. But what could seem like a cruel move to make towards these diversified characters, immediatly translates into an opportunity for each one to follow their new path in life, leaving behind all the harsh memories they have while staying at the motel.

Life is never easy for those who society leaves to the demise of addiction or that are forgotten and abandoned by their families. The risk of leading a criminal life is high and there are many weird and scary thinks that Liz finds in some of the tenants rooms, like bloody sweaters and crack pipes. Instead of criticizing, Liz leaves room for their tenants to talk with her and tell their stories, appealing to their fighting side to keep enjoying life and pursuing a better future for themselves. Through the Plexi-Glass: The Last Days of San Jose is a work that uses archive footage to project a sense that these people stayed in the director’s heart and that, despite their not-so-famous path in life, they matter and they deserve a second chance. Sometimes what all art needs is to have its heart poured in its core. That is the bigger strength of Through the Plexi-Glass: The Last Days of San Jose. A film that amplifies the meaning of kindness and translates itself as a beautiful message of trying to find a new purpose in life.

Even if it is presented as something totally amateurish, Through the Plexi-Glass: The Last Days of San Jose brings the audience closer to these colorful people and, more than hoping for a better future for an otherwise condemned motel, it’s about home, about belonging, about friendships born in unlikely scenarios. How mankind can be connected through the simple act of listening and avoiding judgemental preconceptions may forge a new path for tolerance, acceptance and respect to thrive as a society. Lambert’s love letter to these motel residents is something essential for the world to watch and that can open the minds of many to be more supportive to those who life hasn’t treated so well. It’s a product made with love and nothing else seems to matter. Although it somehow fails to deliver a more deep and thorough ending, Through the Plexi-Glass: The Last Days of San Jose is a journey that will conquer with its humbleness.

Cinema is stronger when it brings us closer together as a society, and Through the Plexi-Glass: The Last Days of San Jose acts as a metaphor of renewal and that we can always find our way even if it seems too distant to be true. It’s a documentary that doesn’t need an artistic presentation, because its heart speaks for itself. The legacy that Liz Lambert left is worth to be shared and it’s a significant step in uniting polarized communities and enhancing the basic human need of having a place to call home.

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Title: Through the Plexi-Glass: The Last Days of San Jose

Original Title: Through the Plexi-Glass: The Last Days of San Jose

Director: Liz Lambert

Runtine: 83 min.

Trailer | Through the Plexi-Glass: The Last Days of San Jose