Review: Burros

Written and directed by Jefferson Stein, a young Indigenous girl discovers a Latina migrant her age who has been separated from her father in the beautiful but dangerous Sonoran desert. Starring: Amaya Juan, Zuemmy Carrillo, Virginia Patricio, Rupert Lopez and Armondo ‘Mondo’ Gonzales.

Burros sets things out on an understated note and it’s a perfect way to set the tone for what’s to come. Jefferson Stein capitalises on seeing tragedy, trauma and struggle through the eyes of a child, bringing a simpler, softened view which in turn heightens the harshness to its reality. Stein manages quite easily to convey the larger political issues at work with this story, it’s clever in how clear it is without having to say much at all. The way that the story moves is slightly reminiscent of The Florida Project, presenting how children may not be entirely aware of the dire situation but are directly and strongly impacted by it.

That understated style continues throughout, it contains a great deal of emotion and especially through what goes unsaid. It holds a sincere weight while the aesthetic overall reflects the youthfulness of its characters. The way that it moves when following Elsa (Amaya Juan) and Ena (Zuemmy Carrillo) brings in the adventurous and curious qualities of their age, while still capturing the wider meaning.

It can be tricky to get the performance dead on when working with such young actors but Stein doesn’t have that problem at all with Amaya Juan and Zuemmy Carrillo. They’re lively and sweet but also touch upon the sadness and difficulty of the situation. It captures how the emotions and struggles of the adults in their lives permeate the children’s outlook. Virginia Patricio then expands the story with the adult perspective, her performance is genuinely moving and really drives home the heart-breaking reality to this story.

Burros takes an elegant approach to smartly communicate the weight and depth to its story. It’s understated and highly effective, by viewing it through such young eyes it takes away the high drama and adds a moving and perceptive quality. Amaya Juan, Zuemmy Carrillo and Virginia Patricio bring the duality to this story, the slowly waning innocence versus the helplessness and struggle. It’s simple, sincere and touching.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

Screened as part of Bolton International Film Festival 2022 & soon to show at Newport Beach Film Festival – For more info click here

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