Metal and Melancholy

Metal and Melancholy

This documentary is an offbeat 'road movie' in which acclaimed documentarian Heddy Honigmann travels with, and thereby discovers the stories of, taxi drivers in Lima. In the early 1990s, in response to Peru's inflationary economy and a government destabilized by corruption and Shining Path terrorism, many middle-class professionals used their own cars to moonlight as taxi drivers in order to weather the financial crisis.

Through the filmmaker's distinctive approach 'I don't do interviews,' Honigmann has explained, 'I have conversations' METAL AND MELANCHOLY learns how these part-time cabbies, including a teacher, a Ministry of Justice employee, a film actor, and a policeman, among others, manage to navigate through Lima's congested, pothole-filled streets in dilapidated cars whose survival techniques are as fascinating as those of their owners.

After describing the intimate relationships they've developed with their vehicles, and the ingenious methods they use to thwart car thieves, the taxi drivers open up emotionally to relate heartfelt accounts of domestic adversity, love, life-threatening illness, romance, economically frustrated ambition, pain and suffering. 'Life is hard, but beautiful,' one of the drivers sums up philosophically.

METAL AND MELANCHOLY also occasionally steps outside the taxis for a heartrending visit to a Lima cemetery, to visit the homes of their drivers and to meet their families, to contend with the swarms of street vendors, including young children, and to snap personal portraits of cars and drivers.

'Revealing...compelling.' Stephen Holden, The New York Times

*** -1/2 Stars 'A loving portrait... moving... this portrait of life for the city's cab drivers also becomes an insightful statement about Peruvian national identity.' TV Guide

'Offers a candid and kaleidoscopic view of the poverty-stricken metropolis through each driver-philosopher's tale of hardship. Some of the stories are disarmingly amusing, even comical; others are poignant and sobering.' The Chicago Reader

'A panorama of human spirit and ingenuity.' Museum of Modern Art Program Notes

*** -1/2 Stars 'A wrenching, haunting film...[with] ferocious intelligence and shattering compassion.' Travis Mackenzie Hoover, Film Freak Central

'An entertaining and colorful documentary that takes a novel approach on portraying the way a severe economic situation can impact the human condition, but also proves even with pain, life goes on and can be beautiful.' -Charmaine Henriques, Educational Media Reviews Online


Main credits

Honigmann, Heddy (Screenwriter)
Honigmann, Heddy (Director)
Delpeut, Peter (Screenwriter)
Voorst, Suzanne van (Producer)

Other credits

Camera, Stef Tijdink; sound, Piotr Van Dijk; editors, Jan Hendriks, Danniel Danniel.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Cultural Anthropology
Cultural Studies
Economic Sociology
Latin America
Latin American Studies
South America
Urban Studies


Heddy Honigmann; Honigmann; Heddy; taxi drivers; Lima; Peru; documentary; film; video; DVD; ,"Metal and Melancholy",Icarus Films

Related Films

Guanape Sur

A barren rock island off the coast of Peru. Every eleven years hundreds…


Heddy Honigmann's latest film focuses on Peru's capital city of Lima,…