Filmmakers Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra follow-up their Oscar nominated feature film Embrace of the Serpent with Birds of Passage, a sprawling drama about Columbian drug cartels. The story’s primary focus is Raphayet (José Acosta), an average bachelor who becomes involved with drug trafficking, gradually becoming a notorious name in the dangerous culture.
Birds of Passage was tailor-made for people who love getting lost in real-life crime dramas. The film portrays the notable highs and lows experienced by Raphayet and his family but, in order to cover as much ground as possible, the movie packages these memories as a catalogue of extended vignettes. While viewers may feel like they’re receiving the Cliff Notes version of this story, they will not find themselves shortchanged by this gripping and disturbing flick.
The most impressive qualities of the movie are the relationships between characters, and how the dynamics change over time. Directors Gallego and Guerra along with screenwriters Maria Camila Arias and Jacques Toulemonde deserve a lot of credit for figuring out how to establish these personal, fleshed-out exchanges, but these roles would have a hard time evolving without the help of such captivating actors.
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