Festival Review: 600 Miles / 600 Millas (2015)

600 Miles

A tense tale of Mexican machismo as a young gun-runner hooks up with a US cop, Gabriel Ripstein’s 600 Miles shows the gangster genre from its sensitive side.


by Mark Wilshin

600 Miles

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

After a terrifyingly tense opening of a slope-shouldered youth perusing a gun store, Gabriel Ripstein’s 600 Millas charts the unlikely alliance of a Mexican gun runner and an American cop navigating Mexico’s criminal hinterland. It’s a gently observed story of a debutant gangster, a fresh-faced youth who crosses the border with both ease and a well rehearsed backstory of a three-day stay with his cousin in Tucson. A fledgling criminal on the make, Arnulfo (Kristyan Ferrer) is suddenly making money and proud of his new status. But he’s soon out of his depth when he’s nearly arrested and his partner in crime north of the border beats policeman Hank (Tim Roth) to a pulp, smuggling his hostage back into Mexico and desperate for a way out of his infernal predicament. Not much more than a boy, Arnulfo’s identity is in full flux, crying and wailing over the situation he brings to his uncle’s door and in an unusually intimate scene, using the same crayon he draws a skull and crossbones tattoo on his arm with to make himself up with eyeliner. And it’s this confused sexual identity that not only causes him to man up and be the gangster everyone expects of him, but also to shoot his uncle when he calls him a faggot. A gritty but sensitive addition to the Mexican gangster genre, Gabriel Ripstein’s 600 Miles may not venture too far beyond the rules of the game, but as an unexpected relationship drama, it’s more than just a Mexican stand-off. Even if there is only one man left standing.

600 Miles is now showing at the 65th Berlin Film Festival

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