Heli, a young Mexican teenager, lives with his father, his son, his young wife, and his 12-year-old sister, Estella, in a small two-bedroom home. Working at the Hiro plant, Heli and his family make a modest living in a region run by the drug cartels. When 17-year-old police cadet Beto falls in love with Estella, the two concoct a plan to run away together, setting off a cataclysmic event that plunges Heli and his entire family into the brutal and merciless hands of the drug cartel. Amat Escalante's Heli is an incredibly unnerving experience that should not be seen by the faint of heart. Escalante paints an alarming portrait of modern Mexico where the drug cartels reign but no matter how bleak, Heli never feels like empty provocation. Escalante argues that the system itself is broken and I really loved his choice of having many of the adults be secondary characters, capturing how Heli and Estella are forced to grow up far too fast, never having the opportunity to simply be children, something many of us take for granted.
Heli has sequences of raw power that are impressive and unforgettable but even with all the despair Escalante's film is somewhat a story of resilience. Don't get me wrong, this film has nothing close to a happy ending by traditional standards but even after the characters of Heli are mentally and physically beaten they still find themselves together as a family. Amat Escalante's Heli is a brutal, bleak journey into modern Mexico which features sequences of raw power that I won't ever forget.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.