Ixcanul Review- AVClub

AVClub: When a Hollywood movie is called Volcano, the volcano in question is damn well going to erupt and threaten some B-list actors. There are no special effects to speak of, on the other hand, in the Guatemalan import Ixcanul, named after the word for “volcano” in Kaqchikel (one of the numerous Mayan languages spoken in Central America). The volcano itself, seen looming in the background of shots, functions primarily as a symbolic barrier; one character, asked what lies beyond it, replies “the United States,” parenthetically acknowledging Mexico as if it were a small vacant lot to be crossed en route. And while disaster befalls the film’s protagonist, it’s one that’s (almost) entirely of her own making—though it’s hard to blame her for wholeheartedly accepting the folk wisdom passed along by her well-meaning parents, even after said parents have told her, quite bluntly, that she shouldn’t necessarily believe every fool thing they tell her. This is a decidedly small-scale tragedy, but it still packs a cumulative wallop.

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