The Box tells the story of Hatzin (Hatzin Navarrete) a teenager from Mexico City who travels to Northern Mexico to collect the remains of his father. On the way home, he spots a man named Mario (Hernand Mendoza) and instantly believes that he is his real father. For his part, Mario tries to tell Hatzin he is not the person he thinks he is. Hatzin is able to finally wear his supposed father down and is introduced to the family business of recruiting and exploiting factory workers.
The Venezuelan movie covers a number of genres. It is a crime thriller and a story about family that also deals with social issues. On top of dealing with various themes, The Box is also a coming of age tale. It is a lot to take on and to the credit of writer-director Lorenzo Vigas, things never feel confusing or out of place. There is a smooth flow to its storytelling with the mystery portions being especially compelling.
Everything about The Box is understated. The quiet performances are almost subdued and there are many scenes in which little in the way of action is happening. The film is a patient one not prone to moments of long exposition or shocking twists. The methodical pace allows for the full impact of the emotional story. It is still noticeable how underdeveloped the characters are. The movie is in entirely in the here and now and offers little in the way of backstory. Anything learned is from context clues that are gathered.
While the slow pacing and lean storytelling will be compelling to certain audiences, others will use the same characteristics as reasons they do not care for the latest movie from Vigas. There are no big set pieces or drawn out monologues. Even Hatzin’s motivations are left vague. One thing everyone will agree with is a large level of patience is needed to fully appreciate The Box.
The Box comes to MUBI November 11
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