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Sundance 2024 Review: Sujo – “the visual language has a haunting quality”

Escaping death as a child after his gunman father was assassinated for being a traitor Sujo attempts to forge his own path in life.

A young boy calms a runaway horse and grows into hired gun with a four-year-old son and subsequently executed as traitor by his cartel employer.  The sins of the father cause his offspring to go into hiding but the influence of the drug trade is unavoidable as he becomes a teenager.

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Dreams and the spiritual interconnection of family drive the visual language which has a haunting quality filled with atmospherics that feels more like purgatory.  There is an interesting moment that takes place under a kitchen table where the main character is hiding as a child while the tablecloth obscures the view of two characters discussing whether he will live or die like his father.  The story is divided into chapters titled by the people who have an impact on the life of the main character from childhood to teenage years that push the narrative forward.

The casting is solid as there is naturalism to the performances that make the relationships and situations believable.  An overriding theme is the bond of family and that fate of those who came before you does not have to define your future.  However, you also have to be open to the help and kindness of others.  Filmmakers Astrid Rondero and Fernanda Valdez are hitting their stride as collaborators and appear to have begun a fruitful one with cinematographer Ximena Amann.  The pacing of the shots enables the viewer to absorb what is happening in the moment while not being overindulged.

The 2023 Sundance Film Festival takes place January 19–29, 2023, in person and online, and for more information visit

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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