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Ixcanul

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Guatemala, France

2015

1h 33m

Director Jayro Bustamante

Starring María Mercedes Coroy, María Telón, Manuel Antún, Justo Lorenzo

Genre Drama

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María, a 17-year-old Kaqchikel Maya, lives with her parents on a coffee plantation at the foot of an active volcano. She is set to be married to the farm's foreman, but María longs to discover the world on the other side of the mountain, a place she cannot even imagine. She seduces a coffee-harvester who wants to escape to the USA, but when this man leaves her behind, María discovers her own world and culture anew.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

90

Village Voice by Alan Scherstuhl

Even as it verges on melodrama, Ixcanul remains fascinated by its people's practical thinking, by how their contemporary circumstances — and occasionally premodern beliefs — lead to actions both relatable and achingly, disastrously not.
83

The Film Stage by Ed Frankl

Guatemala’s first-ever entry for the foreign language Oscar is an absorbing, beautifully-shot drama of cultural ritual and the drive of one young woman to escape a rudimentary social system.
80

The Guardian by Jordan Hoffman

What’s most striking about Ixcanul is the elegant way in which it is shot. Scenes are given space, and the audience is allowed ample time to soak up the atmosphere.
80

Screen International by Lee Marshall

Much credit too must go the actors, all non-professionals who were discovered by the director via community meetings and theatre workshops. There’s no Brechtian alienation here: these are committed yet unmannered performances that help to flesh out what might otherwise be a thin story.
83

The Playlist by Nikola Grozdanovic

Steeped in a culture rarely observed on screen, Bustamante's film has the airs of a documentary. Its ensemble cast of local actors have zero trace of affectation in their performances.
60

CineVue by Patrick Gamble

Ixcanul may struggle to tackle the larger issue it posits but well represents the lives and rituals of the marginalised community it seeks to give a voice.
90

Variety by Scott Foundas

What emerges, finally, is a film that gives an urgent, original voice to a people too frequently marginalized in both movies and society at large.

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