This film from Paraguay offers a jubilant change-up from South American films about street kids. That genre has given us downbeat, neo-realist affairs such as City of God or Pixote.
7 Boxes depicts poverty, desperation and criminal misadventure, yes, but it's driven by a plot that recalls the farcical capers of the Coen brothers.
Victor (Celso Franco) scrapes out a living in Asunciòn's labyrinthine outdoor marketplace, carrying goods on his wheelbarrow and dreaming exotic dreams.
Victor is hired by the owner of a butcher shop to take seven wooden crates from the premises and make them disappear while police search the premises.
Suffice it to say things don't go as planned. Victor is pursued by rival delivery guy Nelson (Victor Sosa Traverzi), who believes the cargo is cash, which he needs to buy medicine for his sick child. Victor is also being tailed by Liz (Lali Gonz°lez), a mischievous young woman who seems equally interested in Victor or a percentage of the money he stands to make.
Co-directors Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schémbori have made a stylish and perceptive film on a minimal budget. It's saturated with gritty but colourful locations, caught on cameras that fly around with manic energy. It also features a cascade of characters, all of whom tend to defy any genre stereotypes.
The plot doesn't stand to close scrutiny once we discover the contents of the titular containers. But there is enough creative juice flowing through this film that forgiveness is easily granted.
Like Victor, enraptured by Hollywood tough guys shooting each other on pirated American crime movies, we find ourselves likewise beguiled.