La virgen de los Sicarios, released in english as Our Lady of Assasins is an independent film by Barbet Schroeder, based on an autobiographical novel by Fernando Vallejo and it follows Fernando (played by Germán Jaramillo) upon his return to his native city of Medellín, Colombia after 30 years of absence.

Fernando is a homosexual writer who goes to a party of an old acquaintance and meets Alexis, a young boy who is the sole survivor of wiped out gang.  "Why did you return?" asks Alexis, "To die" is Fernando's sole response.  He is fed up with the world and shocked by what has become of Medellín.

Alexis becomes his live-in lover, and, having a death sentence on him, is always armed and has no qualms about killing.  A noisy neighbor is always banging on his drums all night long, and when Alexis sees him on the street, casually puts a bullet on his head.  Everybody looks the other way.

Casual violence is all throughout the movie.  A taxi driver won't turn down his radio, BANG!, a man is whistling and someone complains, BANG!, two guys in a subway start making fun of someone... you get the idea.  Almost from the very beginning we know the movie will have a sad ending, the tone would not allow otherwise.  Alexis survives several assasinations attempts (including one with blessed bullets), always from a motorcycle with a driver and a gunner.  Certain character, a man named Difunto (deceased) warns him of the attempt and gives him a description of what the killers will be wearing and so he is prepared, but never afraid, as if it were an everyday issue.

Fernando is always complaining about the state of the people, but not because of the government or the drug lords who maintains some of this gangs, but because of the people themselves: "I hate the poor.  You put two poor together and pretty soon they'll spawn ten more".  He is also disillusioned with God, and while his is not a road to self destruction (as in Leaving Las Vegas), we get the impression that he could care less if whether lives or dies.

This movie left me uneasy, gave me a lot to think.  I've never been to Colombia, but an informal search for statistics told me that in Medellín there are at least eight violent deaths every day, 80% of which occur during the day, in plain sight of everyone.  During the weekends, this number triples.  After a carjacking that results in assassination, a bystander comments "This is the second today.  Perhaps we are going for the record." and calmly goes about his business.

This movie is in spanish, so if you can't stand subtitles, violence or in-your-face homosexual scenes, skip it.  Otherwise, it is an interesting work.

Sources: The Internet Movie Database.

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