Posts Tagged ‘“Tigers Are Not Afraid”’


83 minutes | No MPAA rating 

Combining the grittiness of Luis Bunuel’s 1950 landmark “Los Olivdados” with the psychological fantasy pioneered in recent years by Guillermo del Toro, “Tigers Are Not Afraid” plunges into the life-and-death struggles of orphaned children  on the mean streets of a contemporary Mexican metropolis.

The young actors starring in Issa Lopez’ brooding and violent drama were never shown a script. The film was shot in sequence, so that the players didn’t know what was coming next; their reactions are more-or-less genuine.

The resulting film is equal parts documentary realism and  nightmarish fairy tale.

Estrella (Paola Lara) and Shine (Juan Ramon Lopez) are at the heart of a “family” of children who do what it takes to survive. They sleep in makeshift tents, or in abandoned buildings, on rooftops and in alleys.

As we see in flashbacks, most of these kids once had normal lives: parents, school, a permanent address.

But now they are on their own, their mothers and/or fathers murdered or “disappeared” in the roiling drug war  that has claimed 160,000 Mexican lives over the last two decades. They spend a good part of each day outsmarting members of the Huascas gang, local drug lords who would shanghai the the boys as runners and soldiers and pimp out the girls.

It’s a grim life, and as a survival mechanism young Estrella — through whose eyes the story is told — imagines herself allied with fantastic creatures.  Traumatized by her mother’s sudden disappearance, she’s convinced that a fierce tiger graffiti-sprayed on a wall comes to life to protect her. At other times she imagines that a flowing trickle of blood follows her, climbing stairs and zig-zagging across walls and ceilings.

She also hears eerie whisperings — ghosts giving her warnings.


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