Coming from a country, Paraguay, which produces may be the least number of films in a year, “7 Boxes” is unarguably the best crime thrillers in recent times. It crackles with innovation and makes you take notice of its tension, action, romance, humour and engaging characters in the sprawling underclass of Paraguayan market. This is probably the best low-budget film you could have come across that addresses the impact of greed, poverty and technology in our lives.
Set in the streets of a Paraguayan market, the story takes us through the life of 17-year old Victor, who earns a livelihood by helping people move their goods on a wheelbarrow from once place to another. He likes to spend hours in front of the TV watching movies, commercials and whatnot. His sister, Tami, works as an assistant in the kitchen of a Korean restaurant, where her close friend Leti, is in dire need of money for her maternity, and therefore, plans on selling her high-end mobile phone.
Tami agrees to help Leti in selling the mobile for a good price. She shows the phone to Victor, who is fascinated by it and plans on buying it at all cost, but he can’t afford it. That’s when he lands an opportunity from Luis (butcher) to deliver seven boxes, which he needs to protect with his life, in return for 100 US dollars. One US dollar is equivalent to nearly 6000 in Paraguayan money.
But the delivery job was supposed to go to Nelson, who shows up late because he was attending to his sick son. When Nelson comes to learn that the boxes have been handed over to Victor, he sets out to steal it from Victor so he can collect the payment which he sees as rightfully his.
Every character in the film suffers from desperation. There’s Victor’s desperation for a mobile phone with a camera, Nelson’s desperation to buy medicines for his sick son, Tami wants money for her daughter while Leti wants money for her maternity. What happens when such desperation is pushed to the edge? It waits for an opportunity to turn into greed, and that’s precisely what we get to see as the film progresses at a rapid pace.
The influx of technology on the characters is captured to perfection by directors Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schembori. From a mobile phone to television, we see that these devices are not merely used as items in the narrative but as an important reminder of their importance in the lives of the lead characters. For instance, even while being chased Victor stops at the sight of a television screen and stares at it in astonishment because he has a fascination for large screens. We don’t know what is that he sees in them but it points at the irresistible allure to be surrounded by technology. The role of mobile phones is both intelligent and equally funny, and in one scene, a cell phone is stolen, and Victor, thinking he’s calling the butcher, gets the thief instead. “Can I speak to Mr. Dario?” “This is my phone now. I’m the thief who stole his phone.”
With terrific camerawork that takes us through the small lanes of the market, the directors even with a convoluted story build a gripping narrative, brick by brick. When the contents of the boxes are revealed midway, you realize that the directors want us to understand that money has become more important than humility. There are as many twists and turns in the plot as the market in which it is set, but not even for single moment you feel bored. With an almost unfamiliar cast, the directors take us through locations that make the film as well as the performances appear as realistic as possible.
This review was originally written for www.movieroundup.in