Andrea’s film review – Prayers for the Stolen

Prayers for the Stolen ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Life in a town at war seen through the eyes of three young girls on the path to adolescence. Available to watch on Mubi from this week.

Rita lives with her young daughter Ana in a rural village in Mexico, which is often raided by members of the local cartels in search of young women to kidnap. In order to keep her daughter safe, Rita raises her to look more like a like a boy, cutting her hair short. SHe trains her to hide in shallow grave-like dug-out in her own courtyard whenever the cartels comes looking.

Writer and director Tatiana Huezo has created a film which is almost plotless, looking more like a documentary than an actual drama. Her sensitive and naturalistic approach to film making, with no music (expect at the end), great use of atmosphere sound and loose editing makes everything feel immediate and real, and even though the overall pacing of the film might be a bit slow for some, there is no denying that this is powerful stuff.

The acting of everyone on screen (particularly the children) is so natural that at times I did wonder whether there was any script all.

Huezo avoids the usual clichés of the typical cartel stories, in favour of subtly (maybe too subtly) showing the lives of the innocent people (mostly women) who are affected by all the trafficking and drug dealing happening in those remote regions.

Even though there is virtually no violence on screen, the atmosphere is always one of dread, tension and sadness. As a viewer you’re completely immersed in the everyday life of these people, in constant fear that something may happen at any moment.

It’s not an easy watch and definitely not for everyone, but even if the film seems to do very little, it will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick

Annie is available to rent/buy on all the major streaming platform (Amazon, Apple+, Google Play, Youtube).

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

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