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|
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.
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!