"Miss Bala" is the terrifying story of Laura Guerrero (Stephanie Sigman) a humble Mexican woman who dreams of becoming a beauty queen in a local beauty pageant. Due to an unfortunate series of events she ends up working for a merciless drug lord (Noe Hernandez) who uses her to do various odd jobs; including dropping off bodies, serving as a money mule and seducing state functionaries.
During the course of this film, we get to witness a very realistic representation of the current war that is going on in Mexico; we see how our main character struggles for survival as she confronts government agencies, local thugs, corrupt policemen and her inner demons in order to overcome this difficult situation.
Mexican cinema has been experiencing a renaissance that started in the early 2000's with the release of "Amores Perros" and many actors, directors and screenwriters have gone to achieve fame outside of Mexico; most notably Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal. "Miss Bala" is written and directed by Gerardo Naranjo, one of the hottest young talents nowadays in Mexican cinema. "Miss Bala" has to be the best Mexican film made in 2011, a close second to ‘Leap Year’.
This film was screened at the 2011 Cannes festival and was met with almost universal acclaim and thus was selected by the Mexican Academy of Film Arts and Sciences to represent Mexico at the competition for the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.
The film does suffer from slow pacing and it can sometimes drag a bit. This is however easily ignored when one takes the full strengths of this film into consideration, such as the amazing characterization, the very realistic background story and the hot-button topic that this film is based on. Another aspect that I felt could use some work was the quality of the audio (I watched this without subtitles) and it was sometimes a bit hard to understand what the characters were saying. I kept wondering if this was intended by the director or just poor audio recording/editing.
Overall "Miss Bala" is a realistic thriller that does an excellent job portraying the current state of affairs in this beautiful country. A very strong performance from our lead and a script that doesn't cut any corners make for a film that should be enjoyed by most audiences.