Dir.: Gerardo Naranjo
With: Stephanie Sigman, Noe Hernandez
‘Miss Bala’ does not make for an easy watch. The story follows Laura Guerrera, a young girl from Mexico who applies for a place in a local beauty pageant. However, bad luck throws her right in the middle of a drug war and she catches the eye of a notorious gang leader, Lino. We as the audience are conditioned to hope for the better but in Laura’s case things go from bad to worse and by the end of the film it is made apparent how corrupt and rotten the political core in Mexico is.
Laura, played by Stephanie Sigman, gives a brilliant performance. She is in the majority of the frames and literally carries the whole film. Her complicated emotions range from absolute shock, horror to responsibility and resolve. Constantly, she is faced with new moral dilemmas but manages to do what seems to be the right thing. Laura’s helplessness is emphasised by her grace and fragility but hoping for a knight in shining armour is plain silly in this context. I found that I was truly invested in her character and every turn of her terrible adventure felt like a blow.
The intensity of the film also depended on Lino’s character as portrayed by Noe Hernandez. His Lino is a hardened criminal whose slyness and cunning leave no hope for his opponents. He is abusive, predatory and there is a sense of power about him; the scenes of him ogling Laura are the most unpleasant ones in the whole movie.
Overall, this is a well-crafted film that manages to address important and highly unpleasant issues from a very human perspective. My only criticism is that it felt a little too long. The snappy action scenes were often interrupted by prolonged moments of confusion that were rather tiring. It was produced by Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna - nice to see the famous pair making such interesting and socially relevant indie movies.