The Good Herbs

Las buenas hierbas

María Novaro

María Novaro

Gerardo Barroso

Sebastián Garza, María Novaro


Ursula Pruneda, Ofelia Medina, Ana Ofelia Murguia, Miriam Balderas, Cosmo Gonzalez Munoz, Gabino Rodriguez, Alberto Estrella, Rodrigo Solis, Luisa Pardo



95 min.


The Good Herbs

Las buenas hierbas

Dhalia works for an alternative radio station as she collects boyfriends and words, not yet knowing what to do with them.

Lovingly, she raises Cosmo, her 2 year-old child. Laia is Dhalia’s mother, an ethnobotanist in charge of the Botanical Gardens in Mexico’s University, with an extensive body of work and field research. Blanquita has a secret life: her teenage granddaughter, dead a long time ago, lingers around in a variety of ways that only Blanquita can perceive. Lala experiences some disturbing moments and Dhalia realizes something is wrong with her mother. When Lala is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease she asks her daughter to help her out “before her brain gets completely disorganized.” She gives Dhalia her latest research on plants and herbal remedies “that cure the human soul” according to the Mexican pre-columbian tradition. Dhalia is thus submerged in a compelling journey into her mother’s mind and memories, as well as into her own identity. Her journey into the chemistry of the plants and the chemistry of the brain is embraced by her herbs and flowers, infusions and rituals, cactuses, tree barks and ancient remedies, buzzing insects, rocks, mushrooms, and the almost magical variety of forms in which nature manifests itself as a comfort for human emotions and the inevitability of death.

Ever green

Road movie, Women Directors

María Novaro
Mexico City Mexico 1951

Maria Novaro started her career in the Mexican film industry as a cinematographer and sound mixer. It was only after she worked as an assistant director for the Alberto Cortés film Amor a la Vuelta de la Esquina (1985) that she decide to make her short film Una Isla Rodeada de Agua (1985). This short was a feminist adaptation of the famous Mexican novel Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo. In this short film a young girl goes on a journey to the Guerrero coast in search for a mother that abandoned her. The theme of a female protagonist on a journey through contemporary Mexico in search for something or someone is established in this short film and is carried out throughout her films.

Her next short Azul Celeste (1987) told the story of a pregnant women looking for her baby’s father in Mexico City. This story carried over into her first feature film Lola (1989) which she co-wrote with her sister Beatriz. Lola, named after the protagonist, tells the story of a woman that has been abandoned by her daughter’s father. She is confronted with isolation and hopelessness in vast Mexico City as she tries to relocate her daughter’s father. Many feminist criticizes the passive Lola character and the way in which she cannot overcome her abandonment. However Novaro has said that she refuses to be limited by taking a political stance and does not consider her work to be feminist. In an interview with Isabel Arredondo, Novaro has said that with Lola, she was not only interested in the story of Lola and her child but the film was a way to “reflect profoundly on women, motherhood and Mexico City”. Therefore, Lola being controlled by her emotions makes her an accurate depiction of a woman going through abandonment.

As she was finishing the editing of Lola she decided to write a much lighter story and in collaboration with her sister wrote Danzón (1991). She decided to play with the traditional melodrama genre that is very popular amongst Mexican women, by adding humor to the movie. In Danzón she portrays the traditional Mexican dance hall culture which has strict gender codes and procedures and contrasts it to the port-town of Veracruz. The film follows Julia Solorzono (María Rojo), a single mother whose only escape is in the popular dance halls of Mexico City. When her usual partner Carmelo (Daniel Regis) does not show up for their dance meetings she decides to leave her kids behind and go look for him in Veracruz where he is from. It is a journey of self discovery for Julia as she abandons the search for Carmelo and enjoys the Veracruz life before going back to life in Mexico City. Danzón was the film that established her career and gained her international attention.

◊ Lola (2018) ◊ Danzón (2019) ◊ El Jardín del Edén (The Garden of Eden, 1994) ◊ Sin Dejar Huella (Leaving no Trace, 2000) ◊ Las Buenas Hierbas (The Good Herbs, 2010) ◊ Tesoros (Treasures 2017)

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