Film review: Birds of Passage

You’ve seen drug movies before, but they’ve never looked like this.


Friday, April 12, 7pm
Carbon Arc Cinema, 1747 Summer Street

Ciro Guerra's Academy Award-nominated Embrace of the Serpent (2015) was gorgeously photographed in black and white, spanning 40 years in the Amazon, whose main character was a shaman and lone survivor of his tribe. That is to say: Ambitious. For Birds of Passage, Guerra—joined in the director's seat by Serpent producer Cristina Gallego—takes on no less than the bonanza marimbera, the decade from 1975 to 1985 in Colombia that saw an influx of money, gangs and violence thanks to cannabis.

The film begins with a Wayuu courtship between the solemn Rapayet (José Acosta) and young Zaida (Natalia Reyes). He needs a dowry—she's wealthier than him, and very traditional—and with the help of a gregarious friend gets into weed-selling, finds himself very good at it, and starts ascending the ranks. Things escalate from there into a violent, Coppola-esque drug movie. The film is set mostly on harsh plains with bright, beautiful costumes and a climax that surprises with its scale and ferocity. The directors coax layered, duplicitous performances out of their actors, a lot of whom are performing for the first time, including the formidable Carmiña Martínez as Wayuu matriarch Ursula. A typical tale, told in a new way. —Tara Thorne

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