La Sierra is a documentary written and directed by Scott Dalton and Margarita Martinez. It brings to life a gritty and true portrait of the way life is for many in the ghettos of Medillin, Columbia. Specifically it follows the young leader of a paramilitary group, a young widow, and a young soldier in the paramilitary group. In this review I will share a brief glimpse into each characters role and the overall conclusion of events.
Edison is the leader of a paramilitary group that is not only at war with a guerilla group, but also law enforcement. Edison is self-proclaimed criminal and womanizer, but justifies it with statements regarding tradition and that the other factions against him are criminals as well. He is given a lot of screen time to wonder off into long narratives, almost bragging and playfully touching base on how much sex he gets as a commander. He is merely 22 years old, is always armed, and tends to shoot first and ask questions later; this includes the natural gun in his pants which has shot sperm into six separate women impregnating them.
Cielo is a 17 year old woman who was first married at the age of 15. The film follows her as she tells about the murder of her first husband, and it explores the relationship between herself and her currently incarcerated boyfriend. She seems to want more of a life for her child and yet at the same time it seems that the only chances for romance in the environment are all with gang members.
Jesus is a soldier who works under Edison and also speaks about his lifestyle, not as flamboyantly, but with a matter of fact, this is everyday life sort of tone. He rambles on in lazy, often times drugged sounding monotone telling stores, for example about how he lost his hand making a bomb.
The viewer is put into an environment where bullets fly every day and cocaine is snorted and killed over. The opening sequence of the film is harsh and sickening, yet from there the pace is very slow and actually dull. The movie overall becomes a bit of a bore, seemingly giving these criminals a forum with which to talk about their lifestyle in a way to justify their actions. One must decide whether or not these kids really have an sort of choice in the way they act, and from the examples of many others shown in the community it would seem they do have a choice, but choose to pick up guns instead.
La Sierra is a documentary with long spells of lazy voiced teens telling you how it is and I personally think many sections are worth fast forwarding through. However, once the fate of one of the main characters is fully realized it is indeed a haunting experience.
La Sierra has been called “City of God only real,” and it certainly ends up being depressing. It is not so action packed and entertaining, but if you are a fan of slow documentaries and are a great remote operator with the fast forward button, it is worth checking out. Well, I mean that in the sense of if you wish to watch something ultimately depressing or have a curiosity in death.