¡Viva! has returned and once again we celebrate film, theatre and visual art from across Spain and Latin America. Digital Reporter Alicja Mrozowska reviews Sin Muertos no hay Carnaval…
Sin Muertos no hay Carnaval is a gift to humanity. Ecuadorian director Sebastián Cordero combines Narcos and Shakespeare to create a balanced and beautifully organic portrayal of people. The action thriller for all.
Set in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city and port, the story surrounds the intent to evict an entire community from their homes, interlinked with the personal dramas and moral dilemmas of every class within the society. Cordero is the perfect guide, growing up in Guayaquil, he shows us around all the best spots, Manchester dissolves as you continue to watch. Then, as Cordero introduces the characters, Guayaquil becomes your home and you settle within it, emotionally invested within the threat of eviction.
Having lived in Ecuador, Paris, and Los Angeles, Cordero’s work embodies global themes. This only makes sense, moving around and immersing yourself in these different environments is bound to broaden your perspective and force you to find social links. It’s interesting to consider when watching, even if you have never moved around. In 2018 and onwards, globalisation is constant and not always great. Cultures can be diluted and societies can be alienated. I felt the need to talk about this as Sin Muertos no hay Carnaval proudly holds the integrity of the Ecuadorian culture, and then utilises it as a vessel to connect with all cultures.
Normally I wouldn’t watch an action thriller due to excessive violence and unnecessary madness. Nothing is redundant here. There are some scenes involving blood and violence, to anchor the nature of characters and the power struggle politics of the ego-maniac, the middle man, the democrat, the henchman, the helper, the father, the daughter. Unlike in Narcos which follows the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, and somewhat fetishizes and glorifies his aggression, Sin Muertos no hay Carnaval makes a point with each bullet. Sometimes action films can be like watching someone play Call of Duty (never again), and the scenes are just noise. There is no shortage of fascinating villains here, their allure lies in their intricacies not machine guns.
A great take away here is asking yourself what actions you would take in a similar situation, I am intentionally vague because spoilers are terrible. This review is largely a reflection prompt. You’re welcome. Now back to the point. There is a tug of war between the dialogue and the events, however each action is followed by a consequence. In an increasingly self-aware world, self-analysis is making us lazy. There’s a time for observation and there’s a time to say no. The character of Samanta is a prime example of this, also embodying a ‘grin and bear it’ attitude, which can be powerful but not always proactive. I liked seeing the frustration of needing to do something but not knowing what or how, and then the impact of taking action. In a way this film is a love story between survival and social responsibility, who can’t relate to that?
Sin Muertos no hay Carnaval screens as part of ¡Viva! on Sat 14 and Sun 22 April. Book tickets and find out more here.