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  Great Movement, The Lost In La Paz
Year: 2021
Director: Kiro Russo
Stars: Max Bautista Uchasara, Julio Cesar Ticona, Israel Hurtado, Gustavo Milan Ticona, Francisa Arce de Aro, Ricardo Aguilera, Marcela Chambi, Marlene Pinto, Carmen Quisbert, Armando Ochoa
Genre: Drama, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: In the Bolivian capital city of La Paz, three miners have joined a crowd of others from various regions around the country to walk there on a march, staging a protest about the lack of support for their jobs. The authorities do not seem to be doing anything active in assisting these men, and after the protest is over the trio are left to fend for themselves, unwilling or unable to return home. Surely they can find job opportunities where they are in the city? Well, they can, but the quality of work is real lowest skills necessary stuff, and as they try out for porters, one of their number, Elder (Julio Cesar Ticona) begins to ail quite badly, leaving the other two concerned. What is wrong with him? Is there a cure?

There could be plenty of things wrong with poor Elder, and the climate in La Paz, the highest capital city above sea level in the world, is not only thin as far as the air goes, but the pollution is not a bonus either. Writer and director Kiro Russo was evidently intent on highlighting the poor living conditions for many in his country, and his previous film, also featuring the Elder character, had focused on the issues miners faced. Here it seems everyone has an opinion on what is afflicting him, from his two friends who think he needs to pull himself together, to an elderly lady, Mama Pancha (Francisa Arce de Aro) who sees him as in need of mothering and is convinced his body and soul are being possessed by Satan himself, which would be unlikely.

However, in this film you cannot entirely rule it out, for the word on the street was "experimental" as Russo tried out different levels of realism, and indeed surrealism, to get his message across. Yes, Elder visits doctors, gets X-rays and so forth, but they are not much help since they believe he is suffering from stress, to which you could well reply, you would be stressed too if your livelihood was hanging by a thread and you had just walked umpteen miles uphill on the march for jobs. The film doesn't really offer a solution to these matters, more highlights them in little character vignettes with a cast who were largely amateur, to bring them to life, and to an extent this succeeded as you do grow invested in the small group we witness. That could be down to the eccentricity of the director's approach to his depiction of them, of course.

This was a movie where the characters broke off from the action to have a dance, not once (in a colourful nightclub), but twice. The latter occasion saw the street vendors break out into Terpsichorean move-busting, slightly reminiscent of the zombies in the Michael Jackson Thriller video, but with an even more eighties synth sound for the participants to indulge in. It was a sequence that was delightful, but also in a curious manner humanised what could have been a bunch of anonymous underprivileged faces, watching them suddenly retain personality from what could have been the typical cliches of Latin American cinema where the slums are the main priority in the storytelling. Then there was the so-called witch doctor Max (Max Bautista Uchasara) who manages to break away from this cramped, choking environment and out into the fresh air of the countryside to perform some of his rituals - though from what we see of those activities, for all we know he could be making them up as he went along. It ended - well, it began and ended like Koyaanisqatsi, to be honest, but concluded on a note of hope, well, sort of, considering what Elder had to endure to have a chance in this world. Music by Miguel Llanque.

Aka: El Gran Movimiento

[Sovereign Film Distribution is proud to release prize-winning masterwork THE GREAT MOVEMENT on 15 April 2022 in UK cinemas.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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