Birds of Passage

It’s the overall strength of the ensemble cast, not individual performances, that carries this movie about the South American drug trade. The majority of the characters are portrayed by non-professionals who lend a true authenticity to the production.

From The French Connection and Scarface to American Gangster and last year’s White Boy Rick, the illegal drug trade has provided movie fodder for decades. A few of these films have become classics. Others are among the worst movies of the past 50 years.

Birds of Passage takes a unique look at this familiar subject. Almost all drug movies begin in the middle with stories of small-time American hoods and street dealers. The expected anti-hero who spirals into the inevitably tragic world of illicit drugs is also present here, but his story is only one of many and is subordinate to bigger questions. What was the genesis of the South American drug trade? Who were the people who were there in the beginning? And, what happened to them?

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