A metaphysical po-mo Western, equal parts inquiry and autopsy, Heli is the sum of its seductive and squalid parts: a person, a place, a thing, the state of things within states of being, the struggle against all odds, hope against hope. Amat Escalante, deservedly bestowed Best Director at Cannes, returns to FNC (Sangre, Los Bastardos) with a tale of youth and colossal perseverance in the face of the pervasive, perverse nihilism of a world where violence is merely the outlier that fills in the blanks of the biggest blank of all — society as we know it, the family as we
leave it and life as we love and lose it, a little each day. At the core of the fiction is a compelling consideration of abandonment and its impact on the young and exploited in the darkness at the edge of a dusty Mexican town. Twenty-something Heli (Armando Espitia) lives in distracted cohabitation with his father, wife, baby and 12-yearold sister Estela (Andrea Vergara), whose carnal entanglement with police cadet Beto (and stashed “dowry” of confiscated drugs) triggers chains of events that leave no storyline unscathed. Escalante’s visual rigour is matched
by his powerful cast, comprised of drama students and non-professionals.
— Madeleine Molyneaux