Gunpowder Heart




With her film debut, the Guatemala-born Camila Urrutia takes a fresh and inventive look at sexual violence.


Gunpowder Heart


Let's be honest, I could never negatively review a film with as dramatic and enticing a title as Gunpowder Heart.


This film is polarizing, though, and it’s easy to see why. A daring exploration of the harsh and often blunt realties of sexual violence, the aesthetic is an odd blend of indie-LGBT romance and feminist revenge thriller. It's up to the individual viewer's taste whether or not the experiment is successful. But for this critic’s money, the story feels engaging and captivating, mostly due to the charismatic and heartfelt performances of the two female leads.


Guatemala City is such a fresh setting, and while the cinematography never reinvents the wheel, there are some truly great shots, and frequent flashes of creative visual storytelling. The music choices also do their part in the world-building, making the settings feel full and alive with South American heat and vibrancy.


The narrative, while perhaps controversial, feels more grounded in reality than others do in the genre. As violence begets violence, and the tragedies compound upon each other, there is a slow and subtle tension being built, leading ferociously to the explosive and memorable climax. Indeed, the final moments are truly mesmerizing, and help solidify the themes beyond mere exploitation.


While Gunpowder Heart isn’t a masterpiece, it is certainly a strong debut feature from an inspired and dynamic filmmaker. There should be room to encourage such bold experimentation, especially when there is a personal connection, and the end result is so raw, relevant and heart-breaking.


Original title: Pólvora en el corazón.




Cast: Andrea Henry, Vanessa Hernández, Mauricio González.


Dir Camila Urrutia, Pro Inés Nofuentes, Screenplay Camila Urrutia, Ph Paolo Giron, Art Dir Sofia Lantan, Ed Izabel Acevedo, Delia Márquez and Inés Nofuentes, Music Paloma Peñarrubia.


Curuxa Cinema-South by Southwest Film Festival.

87 mins. Spain/Guatemala. 2019. Spanish Rel: 10 July 2020. No Cert.