Laura Mora Ortega’s (Killing Jesus) film is Colombia’s official submission to the Oscars this year. That means it is their entry into the race to be named as one of the five nominees in the International Feature Film category at the 95th Academy Award. That alone is enough to make a cinephile such as myself sit up and take notice.

The film allows us to learn the story of five young men who live a rather marginalized life. Still, these five young people forge ahead, trying to find a place for themselves in this often harsh world. A tough ask as they live on the streets of Medellin as they are estranged from their families. A shared experience which has brought them together to be like brothers.

The world they live in is very different from the average person’s. It is one without laws. They have formed bonds with others identified as being able to help them get ahead. With acute survival skills due to living a life on the streets, they also have people to help them identify where the danger lies. Some of those people are sex workers who provide them with some maternal care.

The five embark on a trip from the city out into the wilds of Colombia. A trip with a purpose. The purpose is to find the land that Ra (Carlos Andres Castaneda – first film) has inherited from his grandmother.

A spellbinding film which floats in a created world of harshness that no human should have to endure but is captivating despite the cruelty. Over the course of the five young men’s journey and their will to survive no matter the odds, you will grow to love each of them. Care about what happens to them. Wishing them the best. Better than what life has given them so far.

Life and its rainbow of emotions are here to be observed. Told in a visual and poetic way. A different kind of coming-of-age film. Better than most.

Another harsh environment besides the streets of Medellin is the jungles of Colombia. Despite this, it is quite stunning. Cinematographer David Gallego (Sal, I Am Not a Witch) has made it all beautiful with his excellent camerawork. These visuals are coupled with a delicate score and clear sound.

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