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TIFF 2021: “La Civil”


Rating: 5 out of 5.

Just a few days ago, I had an interesting discussion with an individual who questioned the motive of Emily Carr (played by Naomi Watts in “Lakewood”), the female character who went above and beyond to save her son. She said, “I don’t believe any mother would do what Naomi Watts’ character did in Lakewood; it’s an unrealistic and impossible thing to happen in real life.” I was stumbled briefly and had nothing much to add even though I wanted to defend the mother. I just wish, anybody who has doubts about how far a mother can go to save her child, read this article first: She Stalked Her Daughter’s Killers Across Mexico, One by One and then watch the film “La Civil”, which touches upon the same story.

Laura, a young girl, is kidnapped by a cartel in Mexico. They asked for ransom from her parents (Arcelia Ramírezvand and Álvaro Guerrero),. The parents have paid twice, including giving away their truck. They have fulfilled the demands of kidnappers, sadly, the girl was not returned. Fearing the worst, Cielo, the mother, fed up with the authorities that do not want to help, declares war against each individual that participated in kidnapping her child. She begins to track all of them one by one, bringing them to justice. However, the road filled with revenge won’t pass without bloodshed. Cielo is well aware of that. So she asks a military man, Lamarque to help her. In exchange, she will share every single piece of information she can find on the cartel.

Just to warn you, “La Civil” is not an ordinary film about kidnapping you expect. It has scenes that no sane mind can process. The scenes where Cielo looks at dead bodies in the morgue, some of them missing parts of the body, is so horrifying, I’m not sure if you can process it. But the sad thing is, the film is based on true events, which this film, luckily, decided not to cover the murder of victims during the kidnapping. That is something we all should be grateful to director Teodora Mihai, for having empathy towards the relatives by capturing what is most necessary.

“La Civil” is an excellent film that captures the fear of being hunted by cartels, retribution from their end and courage that is the only thing standing against death threat. What Cielo does is unthinkable and beyond my comprehension. But because she is a parent; a parent that wants to bring her daughter back home, alive or dead, is what’s important. She is fearless, determined and uncompromising. She will dye her hair, change her look, track bad people down, because if not for her, who else would do it in the name of her beloved daughter?

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