These days […] South American drug stories are a dime a dozen – or, maybe, 10 bucks a bag – but you’ve never seen one like Birds of Passage, a visually stunning and often surprising true story that charts the rise of the Colombian drug business back before Escobar from its unexpected roots, among an indigenous clan in way over their heads. Matching its artistic vision in anthropological value, this fresh take on a familiar genre – told from the point of view of the country’s Wayuu people – marks an ambitious follow up to the Oscar-nominated Embrace of the Serpent for helmer Ciro Guerra and his wife, producer Cristina Gallego.
Over the course of four features together, Guerra and Gallego have gone a long way to represent native experiences otherwise undocumented on film, but Birds of Passage marks the first time they have shared directing credit – perfectly fitting for a film where the female characters hold real power over the men. Here, local matriarch Ursula Pushaina (Carmiña Martínez) emerges as the film’s strongest character […].
[…] Birds of Passage practically erupts with color. Coupled with an immersive sound design […] the super-saturated visuals give the entire experience a heightened, hallucinatory quality, as if fellow South American director Alejandro Jodorowsky had applied his trippy sensibility to something of genuine ethnographic significance.
Peter Debruge, Variety