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OUTLAWS / LAS LEYES DE LA FRONTERA (2021, ESP) Movie review, plot, trailer

The Spaniard Daniel Monzon previously presented himself with two good action crimes, the prison “Cell 211” and the dealer “El nino”. Famous Spanish actor Luis Tosar starred in both films, and in this coming-of-age crime drama set in Catalonia in the late 1970s, he relied on some young acting forces. Interestingly, the eminent Jorge Guerricaechevarria (a frequent contributor to Alexa de la Iglesie) wrote the screenplay based on the novel of the same name by perhaps the most famous living Spanish writer, Javier Cercas. Given Monzon’s previous films, it’s no surprise that “Oultaws” or “Las leyes de la frontera” was bought out by Netflix because the film is as if it was made for the U.S. market. A crime drama with a lot of action that has no pretensions to grab deep, and which is again a few spears above similar content that is filmed directly for Netflix by Americans.

The place and time of the action are the Catalan city of Girona in the summer of 1978. Nacho (Marcos Ruiz) is a withdrawn 17-year-old, a guy who is constantly harassed by his peers, and it is he who, due to a combination of circumstances, will fall into the company of two slightly older criminals. One of them is Zarco, a striking and loud leader of a local gang, and the other is the seductive Tere (Begona Vargas), a girl with curly hair who will completely confuse the mind of yesterday’s exemplary young man. Quite naively, he will rush into that society and although at first it will seem like a carefree joke, he will finally start to feel accepted, and even a girl like Tera will pay attention to him, it will soon become clear that it is all but not a harmless gang. Robberies, robberies, deals, and even clashes with the police will ensue, and Nacho will very quickly get stuck much more seriously than he could have imagined just a few months earlier.

The strongest asset here is the environment as Catalonia is brilliantly portrayed in the late 1970s, a period when Spain was just beginning to open up after a decade of Franco’s dictatorship, and young people there began to act like their peers in other Western countries. For Nach, all this will start as a kind of rebellion against the way of life imposed on him by strict and conservative parents, but even before he realizes it, he will certainly cross the line of youthful rebellion and serious crime. Although “Outlaws” is completely different from festival, art films that are usually considered for various awards, this film still had six nominations for Goya and the best Spanish film of the year.


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