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Tigers Are Not Afraid (Vuelven)

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On the surface, another just-say-no-to-drugs fantasy as filtered through the eyes of children. A local drug cartel known as the Huascas will stop at nothing — including killing innocents — to advance their cause. Five children orphaned by their bullets band together to put an end to the bandidos and avenge the death of their parents. The title refers to a fairy tale assignment presented by Estrella’s (Paola Lara) homeroom teacher just moments before gunfire rips apart the classroom. Violence surrounds the student. On the way home from school, she turns and walks the other way to avoid a blanketed body lying on the sidewalk. Like ink-blown paint, the river of CG blood from the corpse begins to follow her, all the way into her home. The effect was so convincingly staggering that I hit rewind to make sure it was the result of a computer technician and not a well-aimed fan suddenly gusting off-camera. Animated moments dot the fabric of the picture — at times threatening to, but never quite leaving a lasting stain on the memory. Don’t expect young actors assigned precocious dialogue and invested with wisdom far beyond their years. These are children, something the filmmaker never lets us forget. Hollywood thinking being what it is, would no doubt assume that those purchasing tickets were the same age as the youngsters appearing on screen. And so any semblance of real life interactions would immediately be watered down as the studio, eager to help boost ticket sales, would invariably aim for a PG-13 rating. Here’s one child’s-eye look at the world we live in that isn’t afraid to play unrated. (2017) — Scott Marks

Rated NR | 1 hour, 24 minutes
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