I’m getting a vague feeling that Catherine Hardwicke‘s Miss Bala (2.1) won’t be enjoying the same critical favor that was showered upon Gerardo Naranjo‘s original film, which debuted at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. The all-media screening of Hardwicke’s film is happening only a day before the Thursday night opening (1.31), with a review embargo that doesn’t lift until that morning.
HE reaction to Naranjo’s version: “If Michelangelo Antonioni had made a film about a Mexican beauty queen grappling with drug gangsters, the result might have been Miss Bala. For Naranjo has totally ignored the chaotic action aesthetic of Michael Bay and his acolytes, and delivered an action thriller with a truly elegant visual style. By which I mean long shots and almost no cut-cut-cut-cutting. He knows how to handle action and danger in a much more involving fashion than 90% of the bullshit scattershot action directors out there. Those guys know nothing, and Naranjo, I feel, is a master.”
The Antonioni treatment is why Miss Bala felt like such a knockout. Remove the arthouse element and you just have a kidnapping action drama. I have a feeling that this is precisely what the Hardwicke version has done — i.e., removed the Antonioni.
Save yourself the potential grief by simple watching Naranjo’s version, which is streaming on Amazon.
Naranjo’s Miss Bala is certainly the best Mexican-beauty-queen-coerced-into-becoming-a-criminal-accessory-by-drug-gangsters movie ever made. It’s a flat-out triumph, and Sigman, whose resume wasn’t very long or storied before she nabbed the lead role, is a natural actress and beautiful to boot. She delivers a thoroughly emotional, seriously immersive ‘wow’ performance.
Miss Bala, which was Mexico’s official sbumission for 2011’s Best Foreign language Feature Oscar, and Asghar Farhadi‘s A Separation, Iran’s official pick, were my picks for the finest foreign language films of that year.
Why did Hardwicke and Hollywood wait for six years to remake this thing? If a foreign film is adaptable for the U.S. market, producers knows this within days of its first festival screening and are usually all over it, and Miss Bala was highly praised, nominated for Best Foreign Language Feature.