Guerra and Gallego wisely don’t get into too much of the production or distribution side of the drug business. Their attention is more on the family. While the ending does get into Scarface territory and the numerous weddings, funerals and other ritualistic gatherings evoke the Godfather saga, the mob classic that most comes to mind is The Sopranos. All Rapayet wants is for everybody to chill; he got into this to make his dowry, why does everyone have to make things so complicated?
Wayúu culture lends itself to some extraordinary visual moments. The women dress in elaborate, brightly patterned dresses. The men wear conventional western shirts (and sunglasses that seem yanked off Steve McQueen) but beneath the waist they often wear ceremonial skirts. Ursula’s compound is a surreal, all-white mansion in the flat desert. Rapayet and Zaida have a king-size bed but sleep in a hammock off to the side.
In addition to necklaces, talismans and doctrinal codes of communication (to be a word messenger seems like a good gig) there a dialogue with the natural world. I’ve never seen a more beautiful flying cricket than the one in this film. As the title would suggest, numerous birds make appearances and even if you don’t quite know what they represent, they are very effective supporting players.
Embrace of the Serpent, in which Amazonian exploration was shown from the indigenous perspective, was a nearly perfect film and a hard act to follow. But similar themes are at play here. If Guerra and Gallego want to continue with this point of view, we should all welcome it.