7.6/10
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Narcocorrido (2011)

| Short, Action, Crime
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1:08 | Trailer
The drug ballad of a gravely ill border cop's reckless heist of a cartel shipment, sung by a desperate soul destroyed in her wake.

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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Naija
...
Hector / Lazaro De Yuma
...
Ethan
...
Ramon
...
Dying Woman
Gerardo Rojas ...
Accordion Player
Braulio Lopez ...
Tuba Player
Victor Luevanos ...
Guitar Player
...
Radio Announcer
Elmer De La Cruz ...
Dead Man 2
Jeff Rancillo ...
Dead Man 3
Roxanne Paul ...
Dead Woman 1
Ricardo Cardenas ...
Bar Patron
Spike Carrillo ...
Bar patron
Hernan Cazarez ...
Bar patron
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The drug ballad of a gravely ill border cop's reckless heist of a cartel shipment, sung by a desperate soul destroyed in her wake.

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Short | Action | Crime | Drama

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Not perfect by any means, but the two parts deliver as they have to – tension and violence in the core, context at the end (SUGGESTIVE SPOILERS)
16 February 2015 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I was not aware going into the film, but the title refers to the genre of folk music which takes the actions of those involved with drug cartels as their base material (hence the "narco" of the name). One such ballad is where the film opens before we abruptly cut to a border patrol woman on the US side, coughing up blood by the side of her patrol car. Recovering from this she makes a stop on a small truck she suspects is carrying money – money she intends to take for herself.

There is a lot in this film that isn't really elaborated on, whether it be the background to the cargo in the van, the actual plan of the patrol woman, and other details, and it is hard not to feel their absence in a film that doesn't hold out much in the way of character or detail; however this is not to say that the film doesn't work. The central scene of the traffic stop is played out pretty well, with consistent tension and a sense of danger in the darkness. It builds well to a period of violence, where it is impacting and urgent in its delivery – even on a laptop the gunfire sounded loud, sharp and enough to draw a reaction from me. The lack of context perhaps limits the impact of the resolution to the scene, but it still resonates.

The framing with the musical performance both works and doesn't work. On one level the connection between the start and the rest of the film isn't clear, and when it returns to it, it is not as neat as it would have liked to have made it I'm sure. However on the other hand, the lyrics of the song more than make up for the lack of detail, character and context in the rest of the film. The song speaks of the violence, the endless cycle of death, the hopelessness and endlessness of it all. It does this with a real sense of rage and impotence in the singer, and it does make the impact it needed to make, even if the film as a whole is not as strong as a narrative.

Technically it is mostly well made; there is an awkward transition between night and dawn, which seemed unnecessary to try to do, but otherwise the nighttime shot is well done, with just enough to be able to see what is going on, but still retaining the darkness of the scene. The silence of the film also adds to the tension, with a controlled and effective build which comes from the situation, not a score or other device. There is room for tightening and refining to make it flow better, and to trim some detail that perhaps wasn't needed, but generally the two parts work – the core providing tension and violence, the song at the end providing depressing context.


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