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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.
"Heli" tells the tragic story of main character (Heli), a teenager, and his sister's boyfriend, a soldier, who gets Heli's family in trouble when he tries to steal some cocaine.
The movie was pretty slow for the first two acts, its up until the third act that the action starts. I did admire the technical aspects of it (the cinematography), but it wasn't really anything special as the critics are saying. It felt like they were trying to emulate what Carlos Reygadas does in his films, but I did get what they meant when they called it unflinching.
It was really heartbreaking to watch, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone for the brutal violence and animal cruelty it contains. I would've liked it a lot better if they would've hurried up with the story by editing a couple of scenes out, had the actors showed a little more emotion, or had the film made a more satiric approach like "El Infierno".
As I said, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, at least not to watch it in a movie theater, but if you're looking for an artsy, realistic crime story you might like it if you enjoyed movies similar to "Irreversible", "Traffic", "Despues de Lucia", "The Hunt", or "Amour".
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.
The film contains some graphic scenes (one of which will have all men squirming). However , the biggest audience gasp was heard when the little doggy had its brief moment on centre stage !
A feel good film it isn't .
Essentially a film of two parts, the first half lends much of its focus to 12 year-old Estela (Andrea Vergara) and her relationship with the much older police cadet Beto (Juan Eduardo Palacios). When he isn't being put through brutal and frankly bizarre training routines (he is made to roll in his own sick), Beto promises Estela a better life. One stolen load of cocaine later, and the military (or the cartel - lines are deliberately blurred here) burst into Estela's family home, taking her and older brother Heli (Armando Espitia) off to God-knows-where. The destination is the home of low- ranking cartel members, who proceed to torture and mutilate Heli and Beto. The second half focuses on the aftermath, and the toll the experience takes on Heli. Widespread corruption and brutality leaves a lasting mark on everybody.
The majority of Heli's power comes from its sudden bursts of violence. Even animals and children aren't safe here, and the film sets the tone during its opening scene, a long-take journey on the back of the truck that ends with one of them hanged from a bridge. It's main talking point is the torture sequence, which is one of the grisliest scenes ever committed to film. Not only are genitals set ablaze in one long take, but children are in the room, slouching on sofas and barely batting an eyelid. It's strong and effective stuff, but there's comes a point when you start to wonder if the film has a point to make. The cartel trade has seemingly locked Mexico into a never-ending cycle of violence, but this is nothing new. Heli is best enjoyed from a purely technical point of view, with an uncomfortable, tense atmosphere throughout, even injecting certain scenes with Herzogian strangeness. Still, it's a lot to sit through only to feel the strange sense of emptiness I felt when the credits rolled.
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.
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.
Except for a couple of action-packed sequences (including a prolonged torture scene that will have every man watching wincing in horrified sympathy) this is a slow-moving film. Common film-makers' mistakes such as shots that last just that little bit too long, and needless sequences (eg: an un-named extra larking about on a police lectern, adding nothing to the story) are in evidence. And it's hard to tell whether Heli's (mostly) passive acceptance of what happens to him and his family is because he is a decent man beaten down by a corrupt system (at one point even the female police officer tries to seduce him) or because actor Armando Espitia doesn't have a wide enough range for the role. But the story is interesting and the film well worth watching; and even if you don't enjoy it, there's a sex scene right at the end which you can look on as a reward for getting that far.