Wednesday, October 5, 2011

NYFF 2011: Miss Bala (2011)

Let me not beat around the bush, I think this is one of the stupidest films of the year. It's a film that makes no logical sense from the get go and makes less it goes on.

This is being picked as a shoe in for at the very least on Oscar nomination.


Are these people seeing the same film as me?


(The next three paragraphs are all spoilers)

The plot of the film concerns Laura, a beauty contest wanna be. She and her friend manage to get themselves into a beauty contest. Before they can go buy a dress the friend's boyfriend shows up and she goes off to party with him. Laura tracks them down at a club and tries to talk her friend into leaving. While in the bathroom a bunch of drug dealers come in and kill a good many of the people in the place. Laura escapes in part because the head bad guy takes a shine to her and tells her to just leave.

The next day Laura tries to find her friend but can't do so. Distraught she turns to a traffic cop who turns her over to the drug dealers. The drug dealer takes a bigger liking to her and asks her to drive a car and leave it where he tels her. She does so...

As the film goes on we get some bizarre turns of fate as Laura's house is taken over, she's used as a mule for money, gets involved in a fire fight, and wins a beauty contest (the last three on a single day), raped, used as bait for a traitor, gets involved in another fire fight, is set up, arrested, paraded in front of the media and then dumped on a street handcuffed.

(End the major spoilers)

I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I wanted to leave, but I found that every time I started to get up some whacked out twist happens and I stayed because I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

None of this makes sense.

First off how stupid is Laura to begin with? Is she that out of touch at the start Apparently. In a city where the cops are better armed than many armies and the sky is filled with the smoke of their clashes she seems to be rather oblivious to what's going on. Worse she continually does stupider and stupider going back to the drug dealer when she was free.

And there are other things that don't make sense, for example the drug dealers continuously drag Laura along. In the middle of a fire fight they go to great length to drag her along. Why? To protect themselves? She knows nothing? Simply because if they don't the film stops.

Laura signs up for a beauty contest and wins it two days later...two days despite needing to learn dance steps...and never mind how she just steps into the event...huh?

And if someone can explain the bedroom shoot out let me know since I have to no idea what makes no sense. (actually none of this does)

I know some one is going to say that the film is just a metaphor, and I say nertz to you. Even a metaphor has to make sense on some level, here it doesn't. (as for it being based on a real story, maybe but they drained the reality from it)

What is it suppose to be, everyone is corrupt?


The good characters are simply too stupid. The bad guys aren't that much better. I don't blame the actors who are good, I blame the writer and director who came up with this mess.

The only thing I can say is that the bridge shoot out is great, but everything else is just jaw droppingly stupid.

I know some of you may say I'm missing something, or that I don't get it. But trust me I do, I really do. I just can't forgive the film its numerous omissions and stupid turns (and they are stupid, watch the film and see what happens and you tell me its not dumb). This is one of the stupidest films of the year.

Stupid? Does that mean it's bad? Yes, because it's so illogical that anything that might be good is wrecked by the stupidity.

Avoid this one...and let's hope this doesn't get noticed by Oscar.


  1. I think Miss Bala is a very fine movie. I think you've missed some key elements in the plot. Spoiler Alert!! Quite obviously the drug boss' gang is so powerful and their influence is so far reaching that the beauty contest is rigged so that Laura is assured of winning. Quite obviously the boss and his gang are protecting Laura because they need her to get revenge on the General (and also do other tasks that a beautiful and innocent looking girl can do for them). It was always their aim that Laura, by winning the contest would be able to lead them to the (womanising) General! The reason Laura can't flee the drug boss is because she knows there is nowhere to hide. This society is so corrupt (proven when, and I thought it was a taxi driver not traffic cop, leads her straight back into the arms of the gang). The only thing I'm not clear about is the final shootout scene. There is a twist here. Perhaps the drug boss isn't quite what he seems. Or perhaps the General is in collusion with the drug boss. But it does appear in the very last moments that Laura does get some small reward for her integrity- but she's paid a very high price! And I'm not at all sure that in the final scene that she is still handcuffed!

  2. Steve,
    I can't believe you really didn't get the movie at all, wow! I guess you don't keep up with the news around the world because if you did, you would know how bad the drug wars are in Mexico and how much power and control they have. In the movie, he didn't "take a liking to her", he was using her just like Anonymous #1 said in his post. Actually this movie is somewhat based on true events and the people involved. Laura Guerrero is loosely based on a beauty queen named Laura Zuniga who was tied to Mexican cartels and basically this all happened to her. Also, they incorporated the true murder of DEA Agent Kiki Camerena which happened in the 80's. Bet you didn't even know this, right? I'm not sure what you didn't understand in the bedroom scene, but I'll tell you what I know. She went to the Generals room as ordered, but before she went up there she saw that her friend Suzu was dead and she was in the back of the car that Laura drove and parked in the street. So she decided to finally go against Lino and tell the General that he was in danger. But of course, the some of his soldiers were corrupt and worked for Lino. And in the end is where we as viewers are only supposed to know what Laura knows. She is set free by the corrupt police and all we know is that either she is forgotten by Lino or he has more plans for her. Maybe you didn't get into it because you were trying to read the captions. haha. Try watching it again, it's really a good movie.

    1. Thanks for confirming the ending for me. I wasn't quite sure I had understood it

  3. clearly need to watch this again or stop being a critic. This movies was so powerful and did a great job showing the corrupting and horror that exists in Mexico. It gave me goosebumps and may times made me look away. Laura had no way out and absolutely no way of hiding. Maybe do some research on the drug cartels to see how evil they are and then perhaps you will understand this film.

  4. A very good film. Wasn't sure about the ending until I read these posts.

  5. I'm sure there is a good story just wasn't told in Miss Bala. Before other bala-fanatics tell me I didnt "get it"...try your brain on Omar or Sin Nombre, etc (both are better examples proving that you can be deep and emotionally entertaining without being stupid).

    I understood every scene in this movie: corruption is rampant and no one's got your back. What I don't understand is why the movie failed to establish one of the first things all characters need to be compelling--that is, motivation that makes sense or at least, build the story so that it can be believable. Otherwise, it doesn't matter that this was loosely based on a real story or the camera angle was 'chilling'. In fact, if you wiki the original Laura, it's her boyfriend who is the drug cartel connection, which makes way more sense than some drug lord who creepily likes Laura and yet compromises his men's lives and secret operations to...rape her once? She never once proves herself trustworthy, but the gang repeatedly uses her in situations where they HAVE to trust her? Now that's just bad drug leadership and even worse film directing.

    This movie tries way too hard and it fails even harder.