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Birds of Passage
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Birds of Passage

Ciro Guerra’s 2015 film Embrace of the Serpent is one of the recent success stories of the Director’s Fortnight sidebar at the Cannes. What Men Want It received worldwide acclaim, did a decent bit of business (over $1m in the US) for a black-and-white foreign-language film with no stars and marked the first Oscar nomination from Colombia. So it is no surprise his latest would be welcomed as this year’s opening film.

Birds of Passage is co-directed by Cristina Gallego, who produced Serpent and is given story credit here. In the most reductive way, Happy as Lazzaro it is another mafia story. But as with their previous film, it is the specificity that counts, and while certain genre tendencies prevent the narrative from truly unmooring, hardly a scene goes by without something fundamentally familiar being rendered in a unique fashion.

The story begins in the late 1960s, in northern Colombia. This arid, windy area is home to the Wayúu people, and it is the deep sink in Locating Silver Lake their traditions that makes this movie so compelling. The first sequence is a “coming out” day for Zaida (Natalia Reyes) who performs a dance for suitors. Eyeing her is Rapayet (José Acosta) who is on the fringes on the clan. Matriarch Ursula (Carmiña Martínez) isn’t too thrilled with him, but being the nephew of Peregrino the Word Messenger (José Vicente Cotes) carries some weight. If Rapayet can come up with an extravagant dowry – 50 goats, 20 cows and a certain number of ceremonial necklaces with the right kind of stones – Zaida, and access to the inner circle of the family, will be his.

Duration: 125 min


IMDb: 8.0

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