Synopsis: The year is 1989. It's a very troubled time in Medellín, Colombia, as drug lords and criminal gangs are rampant and cocaine is so easily accessible it might as well be sold in vending machines.
The story begins when a blood drenched young man named Antonio (Unas Ugalde) carries the bullet-ridden body of his friend, Rosario Tijeras (Flora Martinez), to the emergency room of a clinic.
Antonio paces in the waiting area while surgeons operate. As the story unfolds in a series of flashbacks, we learn about Rosario's seedy existence in Medellín's criminal underground. Posing as a high priced prostitute, she's actually an assassin paid by drug kingpins to kill off competing crime bosses after infiltrating their inner circles.
While dealing with the psychologically destructive nature of her job, Rosario meets Emilio (Manolo Cardona), a wealthy playboy. Although he's a recreational drug user, he at least isn't associated with the drug cartel. He just buys their product.
While maintaining a strictly sexual, but emotionally distant, relationship with the possessive Emilio, Rosario later discovers a genuine connection with the sincere and innocent Antonio.
But with a traumatic past and chaotic present, is it too late for Rosario to find peace, true love, and meaning in her life?
The Good: The main storyline is pretty interesting for starters, and visually the film is well shot.
Unapologetic in its presentation, Rosario Tijeras makes no bones about the destructive effects of the drug cartel on Colombia during the 80s. None of the graphic violence or sex is glorified, and Maillé's focus on a few characters works well to act as social commentaries on class, gender, gang life, etc. The explicit nature of the film will definitely NOT make you want to do drugs or become a gang-banger.
The Bad: Not only is the film depressing, but a lot of the content may be lost on many American audiences. Since the film seems specifically marketed to Colombian/South American viewers, many of the main points specifically refer to life in Medellín back in '89.
Other than occasional news reports and a few anecdotes from various publications, I personally don't have an in-depth understanding of what life was like during that time, and unless you do, you may be just as lost as I was while watching this film.
Of course, Rosario Tijeras has much in common with many other drug/crime/gang films produced here in the US, but some of the cultural specifics may leave us gringos scratching our heads.
Who would like this movie: When the film was released, it was a box-office smash in Colombia. With that in mind, it's tough for me to give this one a specific good/bad rating since there was a good deal that I probably didn't understand.
Giving this film the benefit of the doubt, I'd venture to say that the story, and what Maillé intends to tell us, transcends the subject matter at face value.
But what I am certain of, however, is that Rosario Tijeras is dark, very sad, and will more than likely be a downer.
So unless you've really studied life in Medellín back then or have been a victim/participant in a gang-related shooting, you probably won't fully appreciate this movie.
It's not a bad foreign film, but it's certainly one I wouldn't ever want to see again.