Friday, August 12, 2011

El Norte (1983)

El Norte (1983)
El Norte (1983)

Genre: Drama
Director: Gregory Nava
Starring:  Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez, David Villalpando
Duration: 139 min.
Rating: 6.4  

After the Guatemalan army destroys their village of San Pedro, two teenage Quiche Mayan Indian siblings journey north (hence El Norte) through Mexico and on to the United States, with the dream of starting a new life. 

El Norte is a film directed by Gregory Nava and co-written by Anna Thomas.  It premiered at the 1983 Telluride Film Festival, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.  It was released on DVD and Blu-ray by The Criterion Collection in January 2009.

This has a story still applicable to our times, dealing with the issue of illegal immigration, and its three part structure was a good narrative choice.  But I found it so poorly scripted, edited, and acted that it finds itself placed into a very short list of Criterion films that I didn't click with.  Almost every line of dialog is awkwardly delivered, and the action sequences are laughable.  The movie is also filled with obvious symbolism and foreshadowing that instead of being poetic, comes across as subtle as a slap in your face.

It isn't a completely terrible film, there are some enjoyable moments like an utterly terrifying sequence involving rats in a dark tunnel, and I liked the stylistically ultra loud and jarring sound effects used throughout.  Also the cinematography was very solid especially during the first act in and around the small Guatemalan village.  In the end though, instead of the epic and moving adventure of struggle and survival I hoped for, I got a cloying and cliched melodrama barely a notch or two above a Telenovela.

Bonjour Tristesse

El Norte (1983)

El Norte (1983)

El Norte (1983)

El Norte (1983)

El Norte (1983)

El Norte (1983)

El Norte (1983)

El Norte (1983)


thevoid99 said...

Gregory Nava is a filmmaker I'm mixed about.  He's always knows how to create something beautiful since he works with great cinematographers like Edward Lachman.  I'm still interested in seeing this film.  It's just that his other work ranges from decent ("My Family, Mi Familia" and "Selena") to mediocre ("Why Do Fools Fall in Love?") and to the bloody awful "Bordertown".  The last of which was didn't even reach theaters because of lack of distribution following the awful reception it received at the Berlin Film Festival earlier that year.  As someone of Latin American descent, he remains somewhat interesting though I don't think he'll ever make a great film.  I'll try and check this out film and see what I think.

Hoi-Ming Ng said...

I kinda want to just check out that "terrifying" rat scene.

The Angry Lurker said...

A pity.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Search for "El Norte - Parte VII" on Youtube

d_4 said...

Barely a notch or two above a telenovela. NOPE. And not that it didn't seem like there could be potential, but even on the trailer you could see some less than impressive delivery.. 

Moviemonstrosityblog said...

Could have been much better :/

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