Mexican filmmakers never seem to grow tired of their country’s infamous gangs – Luis Mandoki’s crime drama “La vida precoz y breve de Sabina Rivas” [Eng. Trans: The Precocious and Brief Life of Sabina Rivas] is set in towns bordering Mexico and Guatemala, where a young Honduran girl with dreams of becoming a pop star after making it to the United states gets caught up in a vicious circle of exploitation, and slavery.
Sabina Rivas (Greisy Mena) has stars in her eyes, and a local club in the border town offers her the opportunity to perform before an audience. The only catch is that she will need to take her kit off while singing. She nevertheless agrees, and for her services, is given a manufactured Mexican passport by the club’s owner Doña Lita (Angelina Peláez). But at the border, she attracts attention from immigration officials – Burrona (Joaquín Cosio), and Patrick (Nick Chinlund) – an American. After Patrick has his way with her, she’s allowed to return back to club Tijuanita, and Doña Lita. Jovany (Fernando Moreno), a Honduran migrant too, fresh from being initiated into one of the prominent gangs operating in the area, sees Sabina perform at the club and tries to approach her. We’ll learn that they know each other very well, and are both running away from a common dark past. But their individual circumstances don’t allow them to get back together, and Burrano and Patrick continue to make Sabina’s life a misery…
The film has connotations of an earlier Mexican classic named Sin Nombre in as far as the protagonists’ nationality and migratory path is concerned, but this is a different beast altogether, especially with its incestuous undertones and bleak outlook. It is nevertheless well made, and I was particularly impressed by the film’s sound design. The performances by the main cast are also sincere, and Greisy Mena as Sabina gives it her all. The film appear at times to be slow-moving, but it certainly pays dividends in terms of the characterisation. Recommended Viewing..!
The Nudity: Greisy Mena and others
The film inevitably features several instances of nudity from the titular character Sabina Rivas, unflinchingly played by Greisy Mena. Additional supporting cast also appear topless in a couple of scenes.