Director: Joseph Wladyka
Year of Release: 2015
Running Time: 1 hour 24 minutes
Emotionally authentic and bristling with raw energy, Joseph Wladyka's debut feature Manos Sucias is a snapshot of Afro-Colombian life as it pertains to drug trafficking and the impoverished existence of being geographical trapped with little prospects for the future. More crucially, it's a story about brotherly bonds; following aspiring rapper and newly christened father Delio (Christian James Abvincula) and world-weary older brother Jacobo (Jarlin Javier Martinez) as they set out to smuggle a cocaine-filled torpedo along the Colombian coast. Narratively and thematically, Wladyka's film feels familiar, but he employs an impressionistic sense of immediacey which offsets the fact that we've seen cautionary tales like this before. He also elicits strong, naturalistic performances from Abvincula and Martinez, whose banter morphs from playful ribbing to outright hostility over the course of their journey. The film hints at racial conflict and the socioeconomic conditions which provide an impetus for opportunistic young men joining the drug trade, but it's just as often a thrilling suspense picture; visualized most successfully during an intense chase aboard motorized-carts deep inside the jungle. More than anything, though, Manos Sucias works as the story of two brothers forced to confront the darkness lurking inside them.