Thursday, February 9, 2012

Movie Review: Miss Bala


Beautiful girl caught in a ugly situation. It's always tragic, and Gerardo Naranjo's latest film exemplifies this adage to a tee. Miss Bala (or Miss Bullet, thanks Google translator) exposes the horrors of Mexico's long and bloody drug war, and the havoc it has reeked on the nation's innocent population for decades.

It ain't easy being sleazy
Newcomer Stephanie Sigman stars as Laura, a gorgeous young beauty pageant contestant who, by a cruel twist of fate, becomes the reluctant accomplice of a criminal drug lord. Sigman's performance is amazing. She literally carries the entire film on her shoulders and doesn't miss a beat. Not quite as mesmerizing as Elizabeth Olsen's turn in Martha Marcy May Marlene, but damn close. As the carnage of Miss Bala unfolds, Laura remains true to herself and tries to do what she believes is right. Putting the welfare of her friend and family before her own, Laura even tries going to the police, but doing what's right is next to impossible in Mexico's ultra corrupt landscape, completely engulfed in the cloud of it's drug war.

Naranjo's direction is superb. Although his script is a bit spartan, his choice of shots and most of all, his ability to create tension is amazing. From the disco hall massacre in the beginning, to the shoot out in the streets of Tijuana (very Michael Mann-ish a la Heat) and the final narco hotel attack scene, each of these action set pieces should have you at the edge of your seat. For large parts of the film, Naranjo's camera stays over Laura's shoulder. This allows for a disorienting, yet gripping fly on the wall perspective. The audience is as clueless as poor Laura, descending further into suspense and madness together. My only problem with this is, I started getting annoyed with the back of people's heads. When an actor's haircut starts intruding into the world of the film, I don't consider that a good thing.

I'd wife that

Either way, small grievance aside, Miss Bala is still a great film and accomplishes it's goal of shedding new light on Mexico's brutal drug war. In a world where cops and government officials can be bought and sold (even pageant officials as well!) no one is safe from the violence, rape, death and misery of Mexico's all encompassing narcotics trade. Not even a beauty queen.



*NOTE*
Thanks to DM over @ classy-films.com for giving me the heads up about this movie. Although I saw the trailer for Miss Bala before watching Shame, it was the blog post at classy-films that first peeked my interest. Thanks again!

34 comments:

  1. This does look good. Gritty and real with that touch of beauty should make this worth the watch.

    ReplyDelete
  2. it does look good and i like that its got that real world element

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ehhh... Not really for me. Not lighthearted enough.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Not heard a thing about it until you reviewed it, I'd give it a watch.....

    ReplyDelete
  5. Another one I haven't heard off, sounds like a watch for me though.

    ReplyDelete
  6. i might watch this, thanks. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for the review. Never heard of it. Must watch :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sounds good to me mate. Have to admit that gritty films are usually my favourite types of film for some reason. Looks great in the trailer.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'd wife that. It sounds pretty gritty, there seems to be a lot more of those movies these days, though they also seem to still be escaping the mainstream. Maybe they've always been around but are just more prominent now.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I wouldnt mind seeing that myself. :D

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yep decent film, and Sigman is very easy on the eyes.

    I reviewed this one a couple weeks ago: http://www.bonjourtristesse.net/2012/01/miss-bala-2011.html

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow! This looks like a fantastic movie! I love movies that are as realistic as posible! (And the back of peoples heads interests me!)

    ReplyDelete
  13. This movie was Mexico's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar entry this year. Unfortunately it didn't make the cut. I still wanna see it though.

    ReplyDelete
  14. She looks so good. I MUST SEE THIS!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Yeah, I've been meaning to watch this one. A long with about 50 others, granted. It's on my list.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm all about well crafted suspense. This one will go in my 'to watch' folder.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Sounds like a movie with a message! I'd watch it

    ReplyDelete
  18. Wow! Never would of considered Miss Bala without this classy review from you. :) BTW...made you new blog of the day.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wow I really, really want to see this movie now. Thanks for letting me know about it, I had never heard of it before

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'd wife that lol nice caption.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This looks like a pretty interesting film! Might have to check it out!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I don't need to watch this film. I live that stuff everyday here in northern Mexico. :/

    ReplyDelete
  23. Mexico is more like India then? Anyone can be bought?

    ReplyDelete
  24. I heard good things about this movies

    ReplyDelete
  25. Gotta give this film a go. I've seen a few that were of a similar genre and loved them.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Never heard of this one, looks kind of good though! :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Gotta love a good film based on actual current events. Crazy to think that that stuff actually happens.

    ReplyDelete
  28. mexico sounds scarier than the middle east nowadays

    ReplyDelete
  29. The comparison to Heat is quite a bold statement since Heat is in my top 100 films.

    I'll give this movie a chance.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Wow, this got by here. Will definitely screen this.

    H*

    ReplyDelete
  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  32. The movie and the soundtrack is awesome, I thought this movie was the same about narco vs. government vs. people, but this is just like a small slice of a very big cake full of this kind of stories.

    ReplyDelete