Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 2h 14m
Director(s): Teodora Ana Mihai
Writer(s): Habacuc Antonio De Rosario, Teodora Mihai
Cast: Arcelia Ramírez, Alvaro Guerrero, Ayelen Muzo, Jorge A. Jiminez
Language: Spanish with English subtitles
Where To Watch: available for purchase here www.kinolorber.com
RAVING REVIEW: Dive deep into the heart of Northern Mexico, where LA CIVIL tells a tale of chilling realities. A tranquil life disrupted by the harsh world of drug cartels, an innocent bystander thrown into a whirlpool of violence. Enter our heroine, Cielo, played by Arcelia Ramírez, who finds her mundane existence spiraling out of control when her daughter Laura is abducted.
Teodora Ana Mihai, the Belgian-Romanian director, helps visualize this saga. She takes the reins in her directorial debut, and what an impressive first film it is! With the creative support of her co-writer Habacuc Antonio De Rosario and a remarkable cast and crew, the narrative unwinds gradually, revealing the raw essence of the story.
In LA CIVIL, the spotlight shines on our protagonist Cielo's stunning metamorphosis. She morphs from a plain-jane homemaker into a determined advocate, relentlessly fighting to bring her child back home in a land where chaos reigns and law enforcement is but a faint whisper. As we peel back the layers of Cielo's transformation, we get a taste of some of the sad realities that Mexico has to deal with. LA CIVIL steps up, casting a bright light on the disturbing trend of kidnappings and uncontrollable crime in the country.
As we journey deeper into the story, Mihai pulls us into Cielo's life, revealing her unfortunate entanglement in the grim world of drug trafficking and rampant kidnappings that scar Northern Mexico. She finds allies in the most unlikely places; this unexpected alliance ignites a profound change within her, sending her to a world where her quest for justice mirrors the harsh brutality she opposes.
Cielo's battle symbolizes a national crisis, a storytelling technique that has made waves since Mihai's debut at Cannes. The narrative quietly underlines the potential horrors that could befall any ordinary citizen, adding a layer of chilling reality to the story. LA CIVIL uncovers the complex dynamics between Cielo and her ex-husband, Gustavo, portrayed by Álvaro Guerrero. His character studies masculinity, grappling with a situation they’re unprepared for. The narrative exposes law enforcement's impotence, paramilitary forces' aggressive retaliation, and betrayals lurking within bonds. LA CIVIL sketches a grim portrait of a system drenched in corruption, revealing a society where each level plays a part in an overarching sinister network.
Ramírez encapsulates the evolution of a woman from an everyday woman to a spirited fighter determined to make a change. This potent transformation and the film's portrayal of societal challenges make LA CIVIL a noteworthy addition to the cinema. It lays bare the stark realities of life in Mexico under the looming threats of cartels. So brace yourselves for a remarkable film experience, folks; LA CIVIL is a ride you won't forget!
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[photo courtesy of KINO LORBER/AUGUSTIN PAREDES-MENUETTO]