Edinburgh Bites: 7 Boxes Review
Mike Scurfield catches 7 Boxes at the Edinburgh International Film Festival...
An action thriller about marketplace wheelbarrow porters might not sound like the greatest fit, but this Paraguayan film by directors Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schémbori boasts both the blistering pace and the inventive cinematography to pull it off. Putting these one-wheeled wonders to the test, this tightly plotted, highly enjoyable sprint through the Asunción market, burns rubber from the first frame to the last.
Set in 2005, it beings with Victor (Celso Franco), a teenage market porter who dreams of being famous and craves a $100, top-of-the-line cell phone (with camera!). Luck smiles when he is drafted for an unusual job: carry seven wooden boxes of undisclosed content around the market for a few hours. The payment: $100. But what begins as a simple assignment quickly spirals out of control, as rival porters hunt Victor down for their chance at the spoils. Accompanied by argumentative friend Liz, the pair discover the frightening truth about the mysterious boxes in their charge, and the criminal underworld with which they have unwittingly become entangled.
While 7 Boxes does portray a little of Paraguay’s poverty and underclass culture, it wisely does not seek to deal with these issues. Besides, too much reflection on harsh realities might have rather impeded what is an exciting, fast-paced thriller. As the camera darts nimbly around the market stalls, finding foot-level tracking shots and high angle sweeps across the narrow alleys, it’s hard not to get caught up in the tension. Like Premium Rush for wheelbarrows, the script (originally penned by Maneglia) loops its plot threads around each other beautifully, dropping in small details only to pay them off later, all while keeping three or four stories spinning with aplomb. For its pulse-pounding chase sequences, snaps of violence, and playful shooting style, 7 Boxes runs circles around its Western contemporaries.