The director’s follow-up to Embrace of the Serpent is a sprawling tale of drugs, dowries and indigenous traditions
Ciro Guerra’s 2015 film Embrace of the Serpent is one of the recent success stories of the Director’s Fortnight sidebar at the Cannes. It received worldwide acclaim, did a decent bit of business (over $1m in the US) for a black-and-white foreign-language film with no stars and marked the first Oscar nomination from Colombia. So it is no surprise his latest would be welcomed as this year’s opening film.
Birds of Passage is co-directed by Cristina Gallego, who produced Serpent and is given story credit here. In the most reductive way, it is another mafia story. But as with their previous film, it is the specificity that counts, and while certain genre tendencies prevent the narrative from truly unmooring, hardly a scene goes by without something fundamentally familiar being rendered in a unique fashion.