Miss Bala movie still
Miss Bala movie poster

Miss Bala (2011)

Crime, Drama, Thriller

Director: Gerardo Naranjo
Writers: Gerardo Naranjo, Mauricio Katz
Starring: Stephanie Sigman, Juan Carlos Galván, Noé Hernández, Irene Azuela

A young aspiring beauty queen gets caught up in the Mexican drug war.

The movie follows Laura Guerrero, a young woman living in the outskirts of Tijuana, who enters the Miss Baja California beauty pageant and, after finding herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, ends up as a hostage to a powerful gang that terrorizes northern Mexico. Things escalate at a very alarming rate and throughout the film, she we see her getting ping-ponged back and forth between the gangsters, good cops, bad cops, DEA agents, provincial and government military leaders, and the televised beauty pageant.

Loosely based on the story of Laura Zúñiga, Miss Bala is a masterfully photographed and edited look at the carnage and chaos of the Mexican drug war and how it affects the blameless bystanders caught in the crossfire. Considered to be both an arthouse film and a non-stop action thriller, this intense and gritty Mexican slice-of-life is like a strong punch in the stomach that remains in the memory long after the credits have rolled.

Plot summary from IMDb: At 23, Laura Guerro and her friend Suzu enter the Miss Baja pageant. Both qualify, and while Laura waits at a nightclub for Suzu to break away so they can go shopping, a heavily-armed drug gang murders drug enforcement officials there. Laura escapes unharmed but can't find Suzu, so the next day she looks for her; her dogged behavior brings her to the cartel's attention, and they force her to assist them as they menace her father and younger brother. Lino, the gang's leader, decides Laura should finish the pageant although her only interest is escape. Every day drags her deeper and corruption is pervasive. What alternative is there to death or prison?

Awards: 3 wins & 8 nominations.
Runtime: 113 min



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