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Miss Bala


Stars: Stephanie Sigman, Noe Hernandez, James Russo, Jose Yenque

Director: Gerardo Naranjo

The eponymous ‘heroine’, strongly played by model-turned-actress Sigman in an impressive movie debut, is desperate to escape the grinding poverty of her life in the Mexican border town of Baja California where vicious drug cartels enjoy their violent, murderous lives with the connivance of corrupt cops. Sigman believes becoming a beauty queen is her way to a better life but, while she wins the contest, she faces mounting fear and bloody violence horror after she witnesses a murder spree in a gangland disco and is kidnapped by the killers.

Violence escalates, the US Drug Enforcement agents become involved, and, her life spared by the cartel boss because of her looks, Sigman is drafted into working for the criminals.

The film hits hard. While some may find the bloody violence excessive it is justified by the subject in a story that has the potent reek of credibility. Director and co-writer Gerardo Naranjo never pulls his punches, driving his suspenseful story at a fast, action-packed pace portraying venality at its worst and blurring the lines between law and criminality to excellent dramatic effect.

Alan Frank

Mexico 2011. UK Distributor: Metrodome. Colour.
113 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 28 Oct 2011