This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Tori’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I've called films haunting in the past, but this one may truly take the cake when it comes to using that descriptor. Everything about it from beginning to end, and even past that with the beautiful song used for the credits, is deeply affecting in that way.
Jayro Bustamante did a phenomenal job using the folklore of la llorona as a frame to examine real life atrocities that occurred in Guatemala. In fact, between the grounded nature of people demanding justice be served for genocide as a general involved hides in his mansion after wriggling free of charges, and the overall slow burn nature of the film, it almost leaves you wondering if anything supernatural is actually happening. Is this just a man tormenting himself with guilt? Or is there more?
The answer may in fact be both, but also more. It's the various women in this heinous man's life all struggling to deal with what he's wrought, both on a personal and emotional level, but overall as well. A wife in denial and who treats her servants despicably, but is forced to witness the trauma and horrors that her husband inflicted. A daughter who loves her family but feels the truth of lives her father destroyed looming, including, I believe it's implied, her own daughter's father. Said granddaughter is witnessing the sheer fury toward her grandfather, her family coming apart at the seams. And a secret daughter disguised as a servant, who clearly loves her father despite everything he's done to her people.
Ultimately, this film is about those women, and one more who was also deeply affected by the general's actions. It's about them trying to cope, and eventually, about answering for the immeasurable amount of harm done.
Obviously, as a white American, I can't speak too much or deeply to the accuracy or otherwise of what's shown. As far as I can tell, however, this is a hugely respectful and pro-indigenous piece that utilizes a familiar legend to tell a story that deserves to be told and known. I highly recommend it.
tw/cw: rape is discussed
genocide and mass killings are also discussed