At 23, Laura Guerro and her friend Suzu enter the Miss Baja pageant. Both qualify, and while Laura waits at a nightclub for Suzu to break away so they can go shopping, a heavily-armed drug gang murders drug enforcement officials there. Laura escapes unharmed but can't find Suzu, so the next day she looks for her; her dogged behavior brings her to the cartel's attention, and they force her to assist them as they menace her father and younger brother. Lino, the gang's leader, decides Laura should finish the pageant although her only interest is escape. Every day drags her deeper and corruption is pervasive. What alternative is there to death or prison?Written by
There is one sequence in Miss Bala, where beauty queen wannabee Laura is taken from a torrid gun battle seamlessly into the beauty pageant where she changes and, still in shock, appears on stage with the other contestants. It is a moment of surreal genius. The film is a polemic, indicting the corruption and lack of moral fibre that infects Mexico's battle with drug gangs. Much has been made about the authenticity of the film's representation of that situation. Anyone looking to inform themselves of the socio-political situation with regard to Mexico and drugs should start somewhere other than a film. A film's first priority is to provide gripping narrative. Miss Bala has great moments, like the one described above, but at its heart it is the story of a woman caught up inadvertently in a dangerous, absurd situation. She is a victim from start to finish. Personally, I like the protagonist of a film to do something, rather than be continually done to. Laura is taken on a ride, and it is a helluva ride. But she is a passenger, and I wanted her to take the wheel at some point.
And for that reason, the film is visually inventive, occasionally comic and sometimes sad, but on the whole emotionally flat.
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