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Tragedy bubbles to the surface of the vivid Guatemalan drama 'Ixcanul'

Tragedy bubbles to the surface of the vivid Guatemalan drama 'Ixcanul'

One of the first things you see in “Ixcanul,” a vividly observed debut feature from the Guatemalan-born writer-director Jayro Bustamante, is the face of a teenage peasant girl as she’s being dressed for a meeting with her future husband. Like almost everything here that passes before the camera’s steady gaze, the face — which belongs to first-time actress María Mercedes Coroy — seems entirely untouched by the modern world. It’s a beautiful face, so serene and impassive that it almost looks sculpted, yet there’s a tremor of restlessness, a suggestion of a frown, that hints at the elemental conflict bubbling up beneath the...

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