Film review: Kiro Russo’s ‘The Grand Movement’ is a hypnotic portrait of La Paz
Greeting the audience with many of the many striking images to come, by Kiro Russo The Great Movement brilliantly sets the scene in its first moments. Presenting a model specimen of urban sprawl, the camera reflects on a congested city, then zooms in to immerse us in an atmosphere of towering buildings, blaring car horns and the coming and going of a myriad of citizens going about their business. everyday life. Immediately, it becomes clear that the most important character in this captivating film is the city of La Paz, Bolivia, in all its worn grandeur.
La Paz is Elder’s adopted home (Julio Cesar Ticona), a former miner who arrived from the periphery in the hope of resuming his work. When a workers’ protest proves fruitless, Elder sees his hopes dwindle in this unforgiving metropolis. Settling for a job in the marketplace, he is soon stricken with an illness that leaves him coughing and struggling to catch his breath. As he searches for a lifeline for his career aspirations and personal health, an atmosphere of decadence threatens to consume him. But a nice old woman named Mama Pancha (Francisa Arce de Aro) promises healing through an eccentric witch named Max (Max Bautista Uchasara).
Metaphors abound everywhere The Great Movement, as Elder’s declining health suggests a commentary on the perils of urbanization. And the respiratory nature of the disease also resonates universally as an allegory for the current COVID-19 crisis. All of this parallel physical and urban decadence is captured with documentary verisimilitude by Kiro Russo. There is a strong sense that he cares about these people and this city. As the camera roams the alleyways and mountain slopes, weaving in on the conversations, we feel like we’re witnessing in real time. Coupled with an enveloping sound design and heartfelt, unaffected performances, the film truly feels alive.
Indeed, apart from an incursion into Max’s itinerant solitude in a forest, The Great Movement is a striking visual experience. And even those less compelling Max-centric scenes are seamlessly integrated and essential to the narrative’s intermittent surrealism and conflict between spirituality and modernity. This conflict is no more expressive than when the cinematography gives us stunning wide shots of the landscape of the highest capital in the world. As we gaze upon this densely populated city framed by the natural beauty of the mountains, it invokes meditation on what it was, is, and could be.
The Great Movement is playing now in select theaters.