By Neeraj Nanda
MELBOURNE, 14 June 2021: An English-speaking runaway bride, Agnes (Indira Rabie Andrewin) comes across workers tapping gum in a dense Mayan rainforest between Mexico and Belize (formerly British Honduras), and is taken captive. The would-be hubby Englishman (Dale Carley) chases her as she is captive with the workers, who themselves are struggling in the rather tough but beautiful jungle. The ambiance of eerie green nature is laced with the Mayan myth- Xtabay, a female demon who preys on those who enter the jungle with her beauty.
The captors take her to be a doctor as she wears a white dress. The entry of the young female in the men’s group ushers in lust and mysterious feelings, as the group, collects the raw gum (used to make chewing gum) from Sapodilla trees. The workers themselves are evading their mentor, for whom they work. The Mayan myth seems to be playing amidst the emerging darkish lust and the frustration of the jungle’s day-to-day happenings. There are few dialogues in the film. The silence and starings of humans trapped in nature’s bowl speak for themselves.
Colonialism and emerging capitalism bent upon the destruction of nature’s pristine creation are in conflict. And, so are the rough-tough hard-working chaps who have become its instruments. As death stalks the prey lured by the inevitable charm of the real-life ‘demon’, the interplay of humans, nature, and myth peaks in ‘Tragic Jungle’.
Cinematographer Sofía Oggioni does an excellent job. His lens captures the beauty of the rainforest with water, trees, rain, animals, grass, mist, and strange sounds. One wonders what happens as much of it was and is vanishing because of human greed. The environment message of Tragic Jungle, no doubt, cannot be ignored.
Mexican Writer-Director Yulene Olaizola, is at his best. Indira Rabie Andrewin’s gives a stellar performance. I clicked the movie by chance while surfing Netflix and do not regret it. Tragic Jungle is good cinema. Well done.
The movie is streaming on Netflix and is in the Spanish language with English subtitles. The duration is one hour 36 minutes. Year-2021.