CREDIT: The Orchard

Starring: Carmiña Martínez, Natalia Reyes, José Acosta, Jhon Narváez, Jose Vicente Cotes, Juan Bautista, Greider Meza

Directors: Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra

Running Time: 125 Minutes

Rating: Unrated, But It Would Be R for Gun Violence

Release Date: February 13, 2019

As a movie critic who does not focus on any one particular genre, I aim to be as omnivorous as possible, watching as many new releases as I can, covering as many subjects as are available. Certain times, I will encounter perspectives similar to my own, and I will be able to offer my more or less expert expert take in those cases. Other times I will come across films so far removed from my background that I can only offer my first-hand experience of what it is like to witness them. So it is in the case of the Colombian film Birds of Passage, a sprawling tale of a Native American Wayuu family’s chronicle through the drug trade.

As far as I can gather, Birds of Passage (which is divided into five chapters, or “cantos”) is in favor of staying close to home and fostering strong familial and community relations. Living a violent life in service of those values can only lead to destruction back home. And make no mistake, this is a violent film. Taking place in the sixties and seventies, it covers the early days of the Colombian drug trade, but it did not take long for gunfire to become a staple of the business. There are plenty of scenes of women getting pushed around and abused, but there is also a heavy implication that the female characters with significant parts are strong and wise leaders, and this society would be a lot better off if it did a better job listening to them. There are also some transfixingly dreamy scenes that convey the importance of being in tune with a collective inner spirit. The drug trade in this film starts off with American Peace Corps members looking to score some weed, but that foreign influence is a red herring. Everyone has their own soul and that of their community to look after.

Birds of Passage is Recommended If You Like: The Other Films of Ciro Guerra, Probably

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Cantos