El Salvador in the mid-1980s is a violent place and a mother and son have difficult choices to make, caught between the militia and the rebel guerillas.
War knows no shame and, during the 1980s, the devastating civil conflict that ravaged El Salvador reached horribly undignified levels, with government forces conscripting soldiers at the age of 12. It’s this cold-blooded truth that fires the outrage of Luis Mandoki’s rites-of-passage melodrama, following the fate of feisty Chava (the enormously-haired Padilla) as he hustles his way through the playgrounds and warzones of his ransacked neighbourhood.
Material like this is best served raw — but Mandoki is a master over-baker and, in a bizarre, Jesus-like miracle, manages to turn grit into cheese. While you can’t fault this Mexican movie’s intention — it is, after all, reclaiming El Salvador’s lost generation — it’s too posed and formulaic
to leave any lasting impact
If you were hoping for another Salvador youll be sorely disappointed. Cute and bland where it should be tough and raw.