Sicario is Spanish for ‘hitman’, especially in the context of Latin America. Prior to this film, there have been several Hollywood productions about the drug war raging on the border of the US and Mexico, which oftentimes depict the cartels and their violence. Gianfranco Rosi’s take however, is anything but a Hollywood spectacle.
El Sicario, Room 164 is a quiet portrayal of a man, who sits in a dark motel room for about an hour, chatting and drawing in his notebook. His location is undisclosed, except for the general sense of being somewhere along the Mexican border. Whilst the tale of a hitman could easily slip into the gore and dramatics, this retelling simply flows alongside the calm demeanor of the hitman’s voice. The film’s protagonist drapes a dark scarf over his face, sits in a chair, and begins to recount his life story, from its beginnings, to explaining how a real Sicario kills with skill. The film experience is similar to watching a butcher meticulously carving up a carcass.
Jaana Semeri (Translation: Lydia Taylerson)