Eye For Film >> Movies >> Bienvenida A Nueva York (2020) Film Review
Bienvenida A Nueva York
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Sara (Liliana Velásquez) has just arrived in New York City. She's from Colombia and barely speaks any English. Like many such arrivals, she's terrified of being found by the wrong people, so it's a relief to get inside the apartment that has been arranged for her, even if the landlord seems a little creepy. Climbing out onto the fire escape for a smoke, she's ready to relax when she sees something through a window that inspires a different kind of terror - and then all she can do is run.
Marta Márquez's award-winning horror short is slight on plot but big on style. Its rough-n-ready look creates an immediate sense of vérité and intimacy; although it's not found footage, it's textured and lit in the same manner as any number of short real life videos we see day to day. We're pulled into Sara's world. Márquez intercuts shots of her anguished face with fractured images of her body and the world around her: her hand on a door, her feet pounding on the pavement, part of her shoulder as she pushes into a narrow space. the camera moves swiftly as she glances back at her pursuer. Leaves overhead as she passes a park scatter the light, one of a myriad tricks used to emphasise her uncertainly about this unfamiliar place. Márquez looms in on buildings and street signs. Nothing makes sense.
When Sara tries to get people to help her, they can't understand what she's trying to say and she can't understand them. Mundane spaces feel alien and hostile - and that's before the narrative begins to distort, suggesting that our heroine is overwhelmed by the enormity of what she's facing.
Has there really been a murder? Has Sara misinterpreted something, or lapsed into a dream; or is all this simply a metaphor for the overwhelming experience of being an immigrant n a place where many immigrants feel hunted? Perhaps it doesn't matter. The abruptness of it all and the in-your-face direction will have you on the edge of your seat. Márquez uses the trappings of the horror genre to address dislocation, instability and the sudden vulnerability many of us feel when cut off from our communities - the latter made clear when Sara calls her mother. It's a film dominated by instinctive actions, a reminder of the animal part of ourselves and of just how quickly order can be shattered. Through alienation, Márquez conjures up connection. Bienvenida A Nueva York announces the arrival of a considerable new talent.Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2021