'7 Boxes': Small film, Big dreams

Posted: March 07, 2014

LOOKS LIKE it may have only taken one camera to make "7 Boxes," a low-budget but inventive Paraguayan thriller about a delivery boy mixed up with gangsters.

The movie - well-received at the Toronto Film Festival - blends genres and influences, but it's essentially a one-crazy-night, shaggy-dog story about a delivery boy who agrees to hide seven boxes of contraband for a local crook, and ends up in the middle of a very big mess.

Victor (Celso Franco) pushes his cartload of boxes through Asuncion, brought alive by a series of hand-held tracking shots (the directors obviously grew up on Martin Scorsese and Kathryn Bigelow) that follow him through the snaking corridors of the city's marketplace.

The structure of "7 Boxes" has its own sharp twists and turns, and no coincidence is too far-fetched. Victor hustles to keep his cargo away from rival delivery boys and comically crooked cops, his sister desperately searches for the beau of a pregnant-and-in-labor friend - stories that work closer to convergence.

The movie has drawn a comparison to early Robert Rodriguez, and that seems apt, but it may also strike you as a more good-natured version of Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, and one of those "Babel"-like movies of a hectic, globalized world so ubiquitous a few years back (the plot pulls in Arab businessmen, Korean restaurateurs, etc.).

Victor is established in the opening moments as a young fellow who wants to make movies or be in them - the whole thing is set in motion by his desire to raise enough money to buy a used cellphone with a video camera, a device that figures prominently in the plot.

I wonder, too, if a cellphone camera did not figure prominently in the making of "7 Boxes." The scenes are often shot from a single vantage point (though often an impressive one) with a camera of limited resolution and lens capability.

If you're looking for Tony Scott-style Hollywood coverage, this is not your movie. But it's nimble, and clever, and an example of what can be accomplished with limited resources.

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