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Miss Bala review

A Mexican beauty queen is drawn in to the corrupt underclass...

“My dream is to represent the beautiful women of my state,” repeats Tijuana lady Laura (Stephanie Sigman), auditioning for the eponymous beauty pageant in Gerardo Naranjo’s thriller.

She soon represents a sorrier statistic as she’s inducted into Mexico’s underworld of murderers and corrupt cops.

Brilliantly shot in long takes, each leading Laura further into unspeakable peril, it’s more an extraordinary feat of organisation than an affecting tragedy.

Sigman’s turn is committed and the set-pieces harrowing, but sympathy soon gives way to shellshock.

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Matt Glasby

Matt Glasby is a freelance film and TV journalist. You can find his work on Total Film - in print and online - as well as at publications like the Radio Times, Channel 4, DVD REview, Flicks, GQ, Hotdog, Little White Lies, and SFX, among others. He is also the author of several novels, including The Book of Horror: The Anatomy of Fear in Film and Britpop Cinema: From Trainspotting To This Is England.