Posts Tagged ‘Cristina Gallego’


125 minutes | No MPAA rating

Crime story and folklore entwine in “Birds of Passage,” Colombia’s nominee for this year’s foreign language film Oscar.

Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerre’s decades-spanning saga, which follows the creation of that country’s drug trade in the late 1960s by indigenous peoples, blends stark realism with magic realism for an experience that plays less like “The Godfather” than “Days of Heaven.”

Initially the film resembles a documentary about the Wayúu tribe occupying a remote, desert-like stretch of northern Colombia. A celebration is in progress, a sort of bat mitzvah to welcome the beautiful Zaida (Natalia Reyes) to her status as a grown woman.  She’s now available for marriage and almost immediately she is claimed by Rapayet (Jose Acosta), a handsome young man from a neighboring family.

Zaire’s mother Ursula (Carmina Martinez), the clan’s matriarch, isn’t impressed with Rapayet’s credentials and sets an impossibly high dowry for her daughter’s hand. Rapayet doesn’t know how he’ll find the resources…until he runs into a couple of young Peace Corps volunteers looking to score weed.

Rapayet has some friends who grow the stuff up in the mountains, and with his colorful bud Moises (Jhon Narvaez) starts a distribution business that not only brings him Zaire’s hand but unanticipated riches.  Eager gringos scoop up Rapayet’s marijuana and fly it to the U.S.; before long Rapayet and Zaire are living in a very modern new mansion (which, weirdly enough, is situated on a vast, dried-up mud flat — I kept wondering about water and sewage issues).

But Rapayet’s business corrupts not only himself but an entire way of life. Steeped in tradition and devoted to ideas of honor and sacrifice, the Wayúu quickly succumb to the get-rich-quick, trigger-happy mentality that spreads like a cancer throughout the tribe.


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