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|Index||16 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hard to know what to make of this film. It is very well acted and beautifully shot: every moment is completely believable. But it is also profoundly depressing. Heli, a young father and factory worker, and his 12-year-old sister are caught up in a ferocious explosion of violence when the sister's boyfriend, a young soldier, tries to steal some drugs. The theft is soon uncovered, and Heli and the boyfriend are subjected to some of the most brutal torture ever depicted on the screen. The plight of these young people is pretty well hopeless, since it's almost impossible to tell the difference between drug dealers, police and soldiers: even minding one's own business is not enough to protect ordinary people from being destroyed. The movie is, therefore, ultimately shocking and dispiriting, and one assumes this was Escalante's intention: to testify, unflinchingly, to the horrors of Mexico's drug war. But the brutality of the torture scenes comes close to being complacent: worst of all is that young children witness and participate in them as if such mutilation and killing was as normal as a game of sandlot baseball. One comes away with very little hope for Mexico's future, and with nagging questions about the relations between violence and art. Is the depiction of casual, merciless cruelty ever really justified?
Reviewers will probably emphasize the violence depicted in this movie, and there are about 3 brutal scenes, but they should not be considered the main 'attraction' of this movie. There are tons wonderfully beautiful pictures that overshadow the violence, and I will remember this movie by those. There's a laugh here and there as well (Beto showing his strength, the female detective) and it's cool that all though the events that took place change Heli's life forever, he seems to come out healed in the end. There's hope, which is shown in a beautiful last shot by the way. Go and see it on a big screen if you can !
Amat Escalante won the Best Director prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and it's easy to see why. "Heli" is an absolutely brilliant and utterly uncompromising study of crime and poverty filmed with a documentary-like precision that makes its scenes of violence virtually unwatchable, (including a scene where a boy's genitals are set on fire). At its core are several extraordinary performances by a young cast who inhabit their roles so completely it's impossible to tell where the actor ends and the character begins. Heli is an 'outlaw' not in any criminal sense, (he is totally innocent), but in the sense that he exists outside the fringes of society and is sucked into a criminal underworld by circumstances totally outside his control, (his young sister's boyfriend has hidden drugs stolen from a drugs cartel inside Heli's home). This is humanist cinema but set in a place almost devoid of humanity. It's frightening, bleak and deeply disturbing but also essential viewing. A masterpiece
HELI is a Mexican crime film marketed as a dark and disturbing thriller
that reveals the terrible fall-out that follows on from an ordinary
family falling foul of drug dealing gang members. What reviews also
failed to mention is that it's rather dull and stodgy, for the most
The problem with HELI is the attempted worthiness; this was conceived as Oscar bait, so there's a level of stillness and artiness throughout. I don't mind arty films per se, but they have to be interesting enough to keep my attention, such as Andrzej Zulawski's POSSESSION. While HELI certainly has plenty of redeeming qualities, such as some quite stunning landscape cinematography, there just isn't enough story to sustain the running time.
The set-up of the film, introducing a poor family in rural Mexico, is okay as things go. Then things get very dark and harrowing with the crime story, including some unflinching torture sequences which offer the sort of stuff we've never seen before. It's truly shocking and easily the best part of the film.
And yet it seems to fizz out after that. The last act goes back to the sedate feel of the early scenes and it proves a real anticlimax compared to what's gone before. I understand the writer/director's intention is to depict the effect of trauma upon ordinary lives, but the characters just aren't interesting or likable enough that you care. HELI had plenty of potential, but that's the issue I had with it: I just didn't care a jot for any of those involved.
A newly married couple struggles to make a living in an arid landscape and cinder block home with barred windows. A violent culture of drugs and illicit sex simmers beneath the surface of their surroundings and lives. As do hidden psychological wounds, meddlesome bureaucrats and unfeeling, brutal thugs for cops. They are at pains to see it, yet the couple's meager existence is belied by other family members, chirping cactus wrens and Gambel's quail, friendly little dogs, and love. The forces of light and darkness lock in a vicious battle for supremacy in this family's life. Before the film began a woman from the area of Mexico where this story is set, testified that the film is true to the way things really are. Non-professional actors carry the weight of portraying the story and do so in a compelling way. Certainly this is one of the reasons why this film won the "best director" prize at Cannes. Other reasons include beautiful cinematography and an enthralling story. This is not a film for the squeamish. The story moves slowly yet, as with the setting sun, this does not detract from its beauty.
a minimalistic film. a simple story. a dark moment. and the fall of an universe. all in right doses. all convincing, dramatic and impressive. the only problem - the generosity of theme who reduced Heli as a moral manifesto. after the lost of Estela, the rhythm seems be reduced for analysis of trauma. the key moment is only shadow for torture and corruption of police and the search of sense of young family. a story who seems be coherent becomes a sort of improvisation. the image is surrogate for acting. each scene from the last part seems be fight for invent purpose of the first part. a good film, off course. for message. for the bitter taste. for drama. for exploration of crisis. but far to be great.
This movie is a piece of art. Frame by frame you can clearly see Amat
Escalante's and his team dedication.
The script is the best I have seen in any Mexican film. Beautifully captures the life in a broken country, where people can't go with the police and ask for help, where drug lords are the ones that run the government and people work all day to live a miserly life.
As a classical melody, the film moves slowly, giving you quiet strings at the beginning, some strong percussions in the middle and, in the end, just a piano playing sad arpeggios.
I hope to see more Mexican filmmakers develop projects like this in the future.
"Heli" was the official submission from Mexico for the 2014 Oscars for
Best Foreign Language Picture, though it was not selected to be
nominated. It also received the Best Director award at Cannes. And,
it's finally coming out on DVD. But should you see it? Yes
and no. For
the right persons, it might be worth seeing
though for most folks, I
don't think so. This is because although the film has a very simple
story and it's told with minimal emotion and very low energy
punctuated, on occasion, with extreme violence
.among the most extreme
I have ever seen in a film.
Heli is a hardworking young man with a wife, a child, a sister and father living with him. He has a good job working at the local assembly plant and his life is pretty ordinary. Little did he realize that due to his very young sister's infatuation with a young thug, his entire family would be torn apart in the space of only a few hours. That's because his sister's boyfriend is an idiot an idiot who stole a couple kilos of cocaine from a local gang and hid them at Heli's house! And soon, both the gang and some very corrupt cops arrive and decide to teach them all a lesson. What follows is a very vivid scene of extreme torture so extreme I won't go any further. Suffice to say it is not for those with a weak stomach. What follows is how Heli deals with all of this.
The film is interesting because it shows the horrible side of Mexico we don't often see in films. Drug gangs are a scourge encouraged by consumption of all these drugs north of the border. But in the film the federal police whose job it is to stop these gangs are often shown as being as violent and soulless as the gangs and sometimes are in league with them. I applaud the movie for talking about this unholy alliance.
Unfortunately, the film also has quite a bit working against it .primarily, but not exclusively, vivid torture. Safe to say, most folks don't want to see that! Additionally, the minimalistic acting style is a problem. When folks aren't doing horrible things to each other, often the characters (Heli in particular) are almost zombie- like with their lack of emotion. There also are a few rough edits and the film has a look that is a bit rough as well.
Overall, it's a real mixed bag. I wanted to like the film much more than I did. Toning down the horrific violence would be a good start at making it a better movie. Sure, you need to know how vicious and awful the gangs and police can be but you also don't want to see every excruciating detail.
'Heli' begins as a touch portrait of the life of a Mexican family; but turns into something darker when they fall into the path of a murderous gang of drug dealers. The film's third section charts what happens afterwards, and is arguably the least satisfactory portion of the movie: it's not that the film is unconvincing, but it's unclear what is added beyond what one might have expected. The ambiguous mood of the ending is arguably a sign of failure rather than success: of a film uncertain of its own point. What is good, on the other hand, is the warm and naturalistic acting, and a believable portrait of everyday dreams and their ending.
An independent Mexican crime-drama. It was chosen to represent the
country in the 86th academy awards. The story of a brother and sister.
The responsibility of the brother was showcased when his family was
torn by outraged men belong to the drug trafficking. Just another side
story of the movie 'Trade' between a family, law and brutal world.
In a small desert town, Heli, in his 20s lives with his dad and a teen sister Estela. He's married and has a little baby. He and his dad work for the same automobile factory while his sister is at school. An army camp is held for nearby their village. Estela's secret relationship and army's raid on drug dealers, all these lead to get involved in an affair for this little family. The corrupted law is not an option to rely so Heli must stand his own and fight. The world he's after is not for a person like him, he had left no choice other than going for it.
It was a good movie in the aspect of exhibiting the contests. The synopsis says, it is a heroic movie. Heli won't just go into the underworld and smack everyone down. The presentation was in realistic approach. A very well told story with limited characters and dialogues. Yes the movie talks less and displays more, but not completely. Leaves many unsolved mysteries, though it makes you sure you understand without showing the other side of the narration. It's better as now than revealing everything because it could have been lots of violence. A couple of scenes were raw and violent. A bit disturbing as well.
The problem with this movie was the rest of the world received it well, but the natives did not. The reason is the country was portrayed in the bad shade. Like the one we always see in the Hollywood movies which denoted how dangerous is their neighbor. The flaw and the misuse in the law enforcement, especially people from isolated place had to face their problem by themselves. So Mexico's not the only one to have issues like this, but many other parts of the world do. The filmmaker hailed from there so he did this. Remember this movie is better compared to 'Trade' which was more disturbing. In the end, both these movies were not neglectable, because of the plot it showcase was one of the actual crimes that happens everywhere.
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