An essentially ethnographic proposition, which has been cleverly blended for added accessibility with a familiar pop cultural narrative, but then made subtly more weighty and mysterious by being framed as an ancient epic of the oral tradition. Think Nat Geo meets Narcos, meets the Godfather meets Homer.
And it generally works pretty well. The end result is that, despite its appearance here as a windswept, post-apocalytic wasteland, I ended up wanting to visit the Guajira peninsula and its Wayuu occupants and Gallego and Guerra's film joins Burning and Shoplifters in consideration for my favourite flick of 2019.
Quibbles. It makes the standard 'based on true events' claim at the start, but apparently there is no evidence that either the Wayuu or the Peace Corps had a significant role in Colombia's Bonanza Marimbera.
And if one is paying attention here, they might just as well have been dealing in coffee rather than weed, because most of the unfortunate events derive from character faults and social fault-lines that were there anyway. And on a couple of occasions I found myself thinking 'he really didn't need to do that', which would be a serious failing in any epic of the old school.
Rapayet's kingpin crib in the desert has to be one of the best stylised locations in recent cinema.