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Ixcanul opens a window into a little-seen corner of the world -- and finds universal truths about the human condition that should resonate with patient viewers.
All Critics (36)
| Top Critics (13)
| Fresh (36)
| Rotten (0)
Ixcanul is a mesmerizing, intimate and meditative coming-of- age tale that explores a culture rarely seen in films. [Full review in Japanese]
The end ultimately justifies the means; whether viewers will want to stick it out is another thing.
Like its titular Guatemalan volcano, Jayro Bustamante's hypnotic film debut Ixcanul bubbles with the tension of a teenage girl at odds with her family's native customs, before erupting into a frantic and quietly devastating third act.
It all looks fascinatingly foreign to American eyes, but María's story - about rebellion and consequences, oppression and heartbreak - is anything but.
You can sense the director's respect for his subject in the movie's unhurried dramatic rhythms, its grounding in the earthy rituals of everyday life and its strong cast of nonprofessional Maya actors.
"Ixcanul" provides a window into a culture that we rarely see. But it's not just an anthropological study - it has a powerful story to tell, too.
The film is comfortably languid.
Thankfully, Guatemalan filmmaker Jayro Bustamante has crafted an impressive and introspective debuted gem that fuels honesty and a compelling brand of insight tip-toeing through the tunnels of cultural triumph and tragedy.
The greatest success of Ixcanul, about a Maya woman living in the Guatemalan mountains, is that it makes you feel as though you have come to deeply understand a culture that is so deeply unfamiliar to us
It often feels like there are a few different movies going on within Ixcanul at the same time, but they're all well constructed enough to make it come together as a mostly cohesive whole.
Ixcanul eludes the kind of drama that ceremoniously, if all too inevitably, attends the bucolic strands of narrative suggested by Bustamante's chosen milieu, instead opting for a more earthy but no less exigent denouement.
Beautifully shot with local residents represented in the cast, the story gains momentum and tragic dimensions as it progresses.
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