“Los reyes del mundo”: the epic of children lost to an imaginary country


“Los reyes del mundo”, by Laura Mora.


After A Varon, by Fabian Hernandez, and Eden, by Andres Ramirez Pulido, young Colombian cinema establishes, week after week, a delightful presence on French screens. With his second feature film, after the highly questionable Matar to Jesus (2017), tale of revenge among the sicarios (“Hitmen”), Laura Mora finds new life thanks to this variation on eruptive youth, following a band of orphan delinquents blooming on the asphalt of Medellin, the director’s native town.

Everything starts, ex abrupto, on a machete fight between rival gangs. That of Ra, one of the assailants, forms a small, turbulent nebula of more or less five kids, racing through the streets on a pair of bicycles. On the strength of an official document acknowledging the restitution of land stolen during the armed conflict, the curly-haired leader learns that a small plot of land that once belonged to his family awaits him in the depths of the country. Neither one nor two, the little troop hit the road, first on the back of a truck (wild hitchhiking style), then by pounding the countryside.

The film thus adopts the picaresque mode of a hazardous journey through a country that opens up to the characters, going over hills and dales, in the forest or by river, like an unknown, strange, sometimes hallucinatory world (the mists that invade the relief), populated by figures sometimes benevolent (a gynaecium of welcoming prostitutes), sometimes hostile (a militia of aggressive rancheros).

dream of freedom

The violence, unfortunately, turns out to be in no way the prerogative of the cities, but also takes place in the countryside in more localized forms (friction with the villagers, wild extractivism of the land by the big companies). Lost children believe they are moving towards an imaginary country worthy of Peter Pan, but the dream of freedom (heavily symbolized by the flashing presence of a white horse) withers as their destination takes on the air of a mirage.

Supported by breathtaking tracking shots by cinematographer David Gallego, the staging is above all concerned with capturing untimely impulses, grabs and other upsurges. Thus made of shards, it struggles to let the slightest scene settle, like to nourish a real encounter, beyond successive snapshots.

The ellipsis appears there as a convenient way to move forward without digging deeper, and the group motif as a dispensation from deepening each individuality, left in the sketch state. Float these moments when the tumultuous energy of the small strip alone draws its own horizon of freedom.

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