Miss Bala (2011)

Gerardo Naranjo’s Mexican crime-drama has its heart in the right place, but it’s occasionally muddled and confusing to the point of distraction. It’s a damn shame too, because Naranjo’s camera captures an underground world of corruption and ever-present danger with a sharp, cinema-verite aesthetic that hurls the viewer into the action in real time. It adds an urgency to the proceedings while the narrative is propelled forward by the plot’s merciless pace, and the looming, omnipresent threat of violence gradually becomes downright claustrophobic and oppressive. However, it’s sometimes hard to follow some of the plot’s developments because information is often rationed via quick glimpses or headlines that can easily be missed, and the effect is disorienting because the viewer has to catch up nearly constantly. Stephanie Sigman is excellent as Laura, an aspiring beauty pageant contestant who gets caught in an ever-worsening drug cartel battle, although she’s short-changed by a screenplay that can effectively set up compelling ethical conflicts in the middle of tense set pieces but stumbles at meaningful character development.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s