The title of this Uruguayan drama refers to a working-class barrio of Montevideo that's become a center of gang activity in recent decades. That development informs the movie's central conflict, as long-standing tensions between gang members and local merchants escalate into a full-on street war. The gangbanger characters and shaky, pseudo-documentary camerawork are both standard issue (directors Pablo Fernandez, Alejandro Pi, and Eduardo Pinero seem to have watched more than their share of The Wire
), but the observations of barrio life are generally illuminating, focusing on the sort of neighborhood landmarks that are usually overlooked. The filmmakers even stage a few scenes in Uruguay's oldest standing synagogue for a superfluous subplot that nonetheless conveys a strong sense of place. In Spanish with subtitles.
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The 28th annual festival opens Friday with screenings at Instituto Cervantes and Landmark's Century Centre