Every once in a while, you see a film that makes you stop and think, "wow...and I thought I had it rough." This week, I saw two such films. Both had a similar theme: people dealing with harsh realities in their part of the world. Do they have an option to leave? Or is there really no escape? Both of these foreign movies focus on their youngest characters. Their stories made me appreciate my life more.
Director Matteo Garrone's epic film about Italy's infamous Camorra was a critical sensation at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Grand Prize. The Camorra is a mafia-like criminal organization that finances itself through drug trafficking, extortion, protection and racketeering. It is the oldest organized criminal organization in Italy. In the impoverish region in and around Naples, everyone's life seems to be entangled by the Camorra to some degree. The movie's bleak look fits the plot perfectly. But the story-telling is purposefully slow, making it feel longer than its 2hr and 15min run time. (In Italian, with English subtitles)
A Honduran teenager reunites with her father in a dangerous trip through the Latin America countryside in hopes of crossing the border into the United States. Along the way she meets up with a teenaged Mexican gang member who is trying to outrun his violent past and elude his unforgiving former associates. You can't help but get absorbed in their plight -- and hope for a happy outcome. Winner of the dramatic Directing Award and Excellence in Cinematography Award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. (In Spanish, with English subtitles)
Note: If you haven't seen my movie reviews from earlier this month or last month, click on the archives on the left. All films showcased there are still in theaters.