Men with Guns [1997/II]

It is impossible to predict where John Sayles will travel at any given time in his film career, but Men with Guns is one of the director's most surprising journeys. Shot in Spanish, with a little-known cast, the film is a beguiling mix of the political and the mythical. A well-heeled doctor (Argentine actor Federico Luppi) in an unnamed Latin country leaves his comfortable home, in search of former medical students who may be caught in the political violence of the countryside. Although Sayles casts an unflinching eye on the issues of poverty and "willful ignorance" (embodied by the doctor, a well-meaning but complacent man), Men with Guns has a lush visual style and a great grab-bag of songs on the soundtrack. It's a slow and sometimes dreamlike movie, but by the time we reach the end it feels as though something special has transpired. --Robert Horton

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