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Miss Bala (15)

Action, Drama

The story of a young woman clinging on to her dream to become a beauty contest queen in a Mexico dominated by organized crime.

The critical consensus

The film itself represents a powerful critique of a society riddled by high-level corruption and lethal violence, in which Laura’s nightmarish plight is a metaphor for the chaos endured by ordinary Mexican people in the disastrous war against drugs.

****(*)Tom Dawson, The List, 12/10/2011

That innocuous title disguises a Mexican thriller with genuine bite, though the hokey ending doesn't quite live up to the edgy plotting and Sigman's classy turn as a tough heroine in an impossible situation.

***(*)(*)Anna Smith, Empire Online, 24/10/2011

Narnajo, director of I’m Gonna Explode, keeps the story rattling along, piling on the action while never losing sight of Laura, the innocent at the centre of the chaos. Sigman, in what is, remarkably, her first feature film, is terrific.

****(*)Alison Rowat, The Herald, 27/10/2011

A worthy portrayal of the scale of the tragedy of the Mexican drug wars, but it rarely makes for persuasive cinema and is just too vague and formless to really succeed.

Paul Greenwood, Evening Times, 27/10/2011

Violent, loud, frequently thrilling.

***(*)(*)Antonia Quirke, Financial Times, 27/10/2011

Clumsy symbolism undermines a tenacious performance from Sigman.

Adam Woodward, Little White Lies, 27/10/2011

Miss Bala is well made, and conceived as something different from the self-conscious pastiche-homage of Rodriguez or Tarantino. It is trying pretty hard for its effects.

***(*)(*)Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 27/10/2011

Naranjo reveals himself to be a pretty accomplished action director, but it’s his ability to tease out the details of his complex, socially aware story in subtle, sophisticated ways that ensures it remains compelling right to its thrillingly ambiguous ending.

****(*)Alistair Harkness, The Scotsman, 28/10/2011

A chilling, cautionary tale.

***(*)(*)Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent, 28/10/2011

Long takes make the horrific seem like the everyday, while Sigman's impressive turn makes this a devastating slow-burner.

****(*)Daily Record, 28/10/2011

Ay caramba! – Gerardo Naranjo's Miss Bala is a powerful film and then some.

*****Jonathan Romney, The Independent on Sunday, 30/10/2011

Sigman’s turn is committed and the set-pieces harrowing, but sympathy soon gives way to shellshock.

***(*)(*)Matt Glasby, Total Film, 31/10/2011

Features about Miss Bala (15)

The beauty and the narcotics beasts

Alison Rowat, The Herald, 27/10/2011

Where and when?

Edinburgh Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Friday October 28, 2011, until Thursday November 10, 2011. More info:

General release. Check local listings for show times.

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