Colombian Laura Mora Ortega has already shown with her previous film “Matar a Jesus” that she is an author to watch out for, and she confirmed expectations with her next film. A sensational adventure drama about five friends from Medellin who will embark on an odyssey through Colombia to find a piece of land that one of them inherited from their grandmother. “Los reyes del mundo” won the top prize at the prestigious festival in San Sebastian, and it is a film with which we get to know all the splendor and misery of today’s Colombia, a country ravaged by crime and decades of civil wars.
It was the end of the civil war that brought something good to a young man from the streets of Medellin named Ra. His family was previously driven from the village that was once occupied by one of the numerous paramilitary organizations there, and as the war ended, the state decided to return the land to its former owners. Just like his friends Culebro, Sere, Winny and Nano, he is a street kid whose whole family has died. They manage and survive in that real jungle on the Medellin asphalt where they are chased and harassed by stronger and more powerful street gangs, and when Ra gets the solution that his land is returned to him deep in the province of the earth, they will all naively think that they have finally got their place under the sun.
Five marginalized kids, completely wild 15, 16, 17 and 18-year-olds who, although they have spent their whole lives in the big city, as if they lived outside of civilization, will think that they too have finally started. They will believe that peace, security and a place where they can be themselves and where no one will touch them will be found deep in the countryside and will embark on a fascinating journey full of dangers during which they will learn both the worst and the best of their country. And we have no illusions about these kids, because it is clear to us that they are young savages who behave as if no laws and rules apply to them, but rather have their own code of conduct. These are real vandals who don’t even know how to behave in a civilized manner and demolish public lighting on the way, destroy corrals for livestock that they come across on the way.
Such behavior will cost them dearly in the end, and these angry and wild kids are willing to pay a high price to get their piece of paradise. Although Ortega shot “The Kings of the World” in a realistic, almost naturalistic style and it seems incredibly authentic and real, at the same time it is an extremely poetic film shot with a lot of style. A film with which we get to know all the absurdities and wonders of the fascinating South America, especially Colombia, where the cities are packed like a pomegranate, and the rest of that beautiful country is desolate. It is an understatement to say that the environment and the photography are wonderful, and these perfect marginals will understand by the end that the real Colombian jungle is perhaps even more dangerous than the asphalt jungle they are used to and in which they still know some rules.