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3.5 out of 4 stars

Title
Ixcanul
Written by
Jayro Bustamante
Directed by
Jayro Bustamante
Starring
Maris Mercedes Coroy, Maria Telon
Classification
PG
Country
USA
Language
English

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. Bustamante, who grew up with the indigenous Kaqchikel people in central Guatemala, probes the outmoded rituals that bind 17-year-old Maria (Maria Mercedes Coroy). Her peasant parents, who work in a coffee plantation on the slopes of an active volcano, arrange a marriage with a city-dwelling foreman, although she pines for a younger village boy (who calls the United States "the other side of the volcano"). Bathed in dusty hues and rain-forest greens, Ixcanul is gorgeously shot and skillfully frames Maria's curbed sexuality (look to a scene where she waits for her younger crush in the evening shadows). After a pregnant Maria and her family are forced to visit a neighbouring city, the film raises a more troubling parable of modernism's perils, in which indigenous culture falls victim to bureaucracy.

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