Invoking genre narrative devices, the entrancingly evocative La Llorona (The Weeping Woman) walks between fact and myth to engender a shrewdly frightening piece of political horror.
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In the world La Llorona creates, your sins will not only haunt until you make amends–it will haunt those who’ve protected you from those repercussions. Underscored with a foreboding sense of disquiet akin to last year’s Atlantics, the viewing experience is as satisfying as it is provocative.
La Llorona is a quiet movie that shudders with spiritual trauma.
La Llorona is the kind of tale of mystery and imagination that prefers to get under your skin rather than shock your central nervous system, which only makes its near-suffocating feeling of foreboding more potent.
How this outspoken film, Bustamante’s most gripping to date, will fare domestically is an open question (it has not come out yet in Guatemala). It had a blazing bow in the Venice Days sidebar (Giornate degli Autori), where it easily grabbed the best film prize.
What stands out about the film is the pain that lies underneath Bustamante’s placid compositions—an anguished desire for justice that, like the Weeping Woman herself, still cries out to be heard.
This taut, accomplished film recounts a dark episode in Guatemala’s history as a suspense-laden ghost story based on a myth deeply rooted in indigenous Latin American culture.
There are some very good scenes in the movie’s second half; even so, it’s striking that the most unsettling aspect of “La Llorona” is that history doesn’t simply shape the movie. It also haunts and finally overwhelms it with terrors far more unspeakable than any impressively manufactured shock.
This version of La Llorona finds new emotional ground. It’s not just a creepy story, but a painful reflection of injustice.
The performances are subdued, not really pitched to match the rising horror facing them all. Still, you have to hand it to Bustamente. He’s made a La Llorona movie with pointed politics, real world villains and righteous wrath. Sometimes, the horrors are in the headlines, or what the headlines aren’t telling us.