Seomra Spraoi

Dublin's Autonomous Social Centre

Seomra Spraoi Cinema — La Zona

Seomra Spraoi / Wednesday 4th March / 5pm–7:30pm

La Zona is a contemporary satirical thriller by director Rodrigo Plá, contrasting the poverty of modern Mexico with heavily fortified, gated communities for the wealthy overclass and their families.

The title refers to a fictionalised posh district in Mexico City, an arcadia of beautiful homes, resplendent lawns and kids in smart school uniforms, fenced off from the slums with razor wire, surrounded by security guards and CCTV, and boasting legal exemptions from conventional police access, signed off by judges who have links with the rich lawyers who live inside.

The community is horrified when a wealthy woman is brutally beaten, robbed and murdered by a trio of criminals who have somehow breached the perimeter: two of them are shot dead by guards and armed citizens, but the third, a boy, is still at large somewhere in their creepy Westworld. What embarrasses the citizenry of La Zona is that one of the thugs was from their security force. It looks like an inside job. So they decide to settle their own business their own way, and have in any case nothing but contempt for a feckless police force drawn from the same class as the wrongdoers.

When a suspicious cop finally gains access to ask questions about gunshots heard from over the fence, he is stonewalled; the burghers cover up the fact that there was ever a murder at all, they get rid of the bodies and initiate a huge manhunt to find the boy – and kill him.

It is a shrewd study in group pathology, and has the arresting feel of a movie set five minutes into the future: it is not entirely clear that this is a fantasy, a what-if setup, or whether it is being proposed as simply a dramatic variation on something that everyone knows is the case. In the vast lawless sprawls imagined by this movie, the police are ineffectual in rich areas as well as poor: this could well be accurate – or perhaps simply on the verge of being accurate. Either way, it is a smart movie, dramatically lean and mean, exciting and often shocking.

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