Dir: Luis Estrada
Starring: Damian Alcazar, Joaquin Cosio, Ernesto Gomez Cruz
Every so often a film comes along, you don’t know much about it but you’ve heard very positive things. You go in to watch it and keep your expectations in check and then it slaps you upside the head! El Narco (aka El infierno) did just that to me, this is a film of epic proportions and I had no idea it would be as hard hitting as it was. Without doing much research into the film, I figured it was controversial in its homeland and I found out it was, despite making $$$ at the box office and picking up awards. The film certainly is a social commentary on the darker side of Mexico, yet it contains a strange dark humor and it is such an engaging film – it is over two hours long and it’ll fly by (think I Saw The Devil).
The film does have an intricate plot, and watching it all unfold is part of the experience. I’d rather not give much away, so here is my brief synopsis. Benny leaves Mexico as a young man and heads to the United States. Twenty years later that young man (played by Damián Alcázar) gets exported and returns home to a much different place. He finds out his brother was killed, and winds up getting involved in the darker side of business even thought it isn’t really fitting. He finds out that living this kind of life has a toll … and the film will certainly stick with you!
This is a dark film; it isn’t really light despite the humour. It aims to bring the kind of criminal life that exists in the country to light. It isn’t something that is fun and games, and it doesn’t shy away from showing this. Of course there is more to the country than that, but this is just one story from it. It is extremely hard hitting and I have thought about it often since watching it. I like films that have something to say, and this certainly does and I do hope people can take that in.
The film belongs to the fantastic Damián Alcázar, an amazing and well-rounded performance was given and honestly he took me by surprise. After first being introduced to him, I wasn’t sure what to make of him. But it doesn’t take long to get fully immersed in his story and stick with him throughout the film. Joaquín Cosio (General Medrano in Quantam Of Solace) is also a stand out as El Cochiloco, he owns the screen the moment he shows up and gives an incredible performance. The entire cast are great thought, but those two really deserve the props here.
I feel bad that I haven’t seen Luis Estrada’s previous films (he wrote and directed this one), as this is nothing short of a brilliant piece of cinema. I feel compelled to seek his films out after this though, and I have no doubt in my mind I will re-visit El Narco. I really can’t recommend this film enough, if you see it on a shelf pick it up and give it a shot. It is not for the faint at heart, so be warned if you can’t take anything too heavy.
The Australian DVD:
The DVD I reviewed was a screener, so I am unable to comment on Picture/Audio quality.
DVD details here.
Thanks to Bill, care of Eagle Entertainment for the copy.