Heli

A working-poor family in the central Mexican city of Guanajuato is plunged into untold suffering after a military recruit hides a stash of impounded cocaine in their home. Amat Escalante, who won the best director prize at Cannes for this hyperrealist docudrama (2013), presents the family’s nightmare in excruciating detail; indeed this contains some of the most graphic depictions of torture I’ve ever seen (the general air of hopelessness, which makes dehumanizing violence seem practically inevitable, can be no less difficult to bear). On a formal level, though, this is breathtaking, often playing out in extended Steadicam shots reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and Bela Tarr’s Satantango. Escalante is concerned not only with brutality in contemporary Mexico, but with the moral quandary of how to respond to it as an artist. In Spanish with subtitles.