In a world subjected more and more to violence, with the established societies not able to provide appropriate answers to social and political conflicts, ordinary people try to protect their normality by building walls. Tall, barbed wired walls, with armed guards behind which the apparently normal life – with children playing games and going to school and adults indulging into the pleasures of comfortable routine – can continue. To what extent are these walls efficient may be measured by statistics that show if crime or violence are lowered by building them.Other effects however are harder to measure – what is the psychological impact upon the ones who are supposed to be protected by these walls? To what extent are the people protected by the walls really free? What is their relation to the world outside – morally? legally? Can normality of life be really protected by walls?

 

source http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/la_zona/

 

Those generic questions get some interesting answers in the Mexican director Rodrigo Pla‘s first feature film, applauded by critics and the jury of the Film Festival in Venice, a story about a community of mid-to-high class residents in Mexico that build a wall around their district and protect themselves in a vigilante manner. A state within another state unable to protect its privileged citizens. When intruders almost accidentally break into the protected area, the inevitable happens, and the members of the community are faced with the dilemma of continuing to protect their way of life at the costs of covering the killings of the not-so-innocent intruders and chasing the sole teenage survivor of the incident. To protect themselves from crime they must resort to crime.

 

(video source moonfleetpuntoes)

 

Pla’s efficient film making and good acting keep the interest awake for the whole duration of this film, despite the rather expected story line and the conventional characters. It is however the questions that can be asked beyond the immediate details of the story that provide value, questions about the balance between the need for normality and the price to pay in order to earn it, about the rights of all members of society not only to a quite life but also to basic living conditions and equal chances, about the moment when the power of law is superseded by the laws of power. The story may happen in Mexico but it is true and actual for many other places in the world.