Watch whatever you want in November, they said. It will be fun, and you will in no way regret the gloomy weather reflecting the dark tone of your films, they said. Well, guess what: this week’s pick for the Collab is incredibly heavy, but (spoiler?), well worth the watch.
Tigers Are Not Afraid
A group of children flee the leaders of a violent drug cartel after stealing a phone that stores incriminating information.
In a small town in Mexico, warring drug cartels have unleashed violence on their enemies and bystanders alike. With classes suspended due to the violence, young Estrella has little to distract her from her mother’s disappearance. Gifted 3 pieces of chalk that will give her 3 wishes, Estrella first requests her mother come back.
Unfortunately, this wish goes badly as Estrella’s mother has died but now haunts her. As she waits in her empty house, a looter breaks into the house to steal anything left of value. The looter is Shine, a child no older than Estrella, advises her to leave as the only people who will return are the members of the Huascas cartel.
Acknowledging that she can’t make it on her own, Estrella tracks down Shine and his crew, a group of orphaned boys living in a makeshift home on the streets. The group is in added danger at the moment as Shine has stolen the gun and phone of one of the Huascas–and there seems to be something on the phone they are none too keen to share on Instagram. After the group is ambushed for the phone, the Huascas abduct the youngest and cutest of the kids.
To prove her trustworthiness and to get their brother back, Shine charges Estrella with taking out Caco, the man who is after them. Though armed with a gun, Estrella is fully prepared to use a wish to kill Caco; as it turns out, neither murder weapon is needed as he has already been shot. Estrella decides there’s no need for the others to know this and fudges the truth just a bit. Either way, the gang is back together again, though with some additional traumatized children stolen by the Huascas.
After Estrella has a dream about a mansion with a swimming pool and soccer field, she insists the group relocate–not least so they can hide from the Huascas. When they break into an abandoned mansion, it seems Estrella was right, and the children can briefly act like children.
However, it’s not long before reality catches up to our group of orphans, and Estrella realizes they will have to take drastic action to escape the Huascas. Calling a truce with leader of the Huascas, Chino, Estrella promises to return the phone as long as the Huascas get off their back.
Is this truce the miraculous answer to their problems the children have waited for?
4/5 Pink Panther Heads
Oh, my heart. The story itself is devastating, made even more impactful by its telling through the eyes of children. The members of the Huascas cartel are merciless, interpreting all around them, including children, as either obstacles or products to be used or sold. Through all of this, the children struggle to make sense of the world and find hope despite the relentless terror they live with.
The cartel’s victims as ghosts seeking revenge is effective, and shows the real horror of humanity to be much more disturbing than restless spirits. More chilling is witnessing the children seeing violence on a daily basis and becoming immune to it. They also discuss murder quite casually, both as they see it and commit acts of violence themselves that test their innocence and resilience.
The titular tigers appear throughout the film as a bit of a magic realism, asking the question of what it means to be fierce and what a fighter looks like.
Well worth a watch, but you may need some tissues, comfort chocolate, and/or a fuzzy animal to cuddle.