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A grounded, gritty coming-of-age drama, “All the Fires” is a realistic and compelling tale of grief and the struggle to find one’s identity.

All the Fires

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With a plot that seems simple but runs so much deeper, All the Fires is a complex film that has proven to be a foreign film worth watching thanks to the powerful emotions it effectively draws from the viewer.

Hailing from Mexico, All the Fires (Todos los incendios), written and directed by Mauricio Calderón Rico, seems to have catapulted onto the festival scene, winning many awards and big nominations for its lead, Sebastian Rojano. Its portrayal of self-discovery resonates with audiences, leaving an impact in its wake within its circuit.

Throughout the film, we follow Bruno (played by Sebastian Rojano), a pyromaniac teen confronted daily with the pain of his father’s death.

His mother chooses to move on while pushing many religious values toward Bruno. He also struggles with his best friend Ian (played by Ari Lopez) constantly making advances towards him, confusing him further on whether or not it’s reciprocated.

The fear of losing his closest friend seems to mount pressure on him. At the same time, he is chatting online with a girl named Danni (played by Natalia Quiroz), with whom he swaps photos as she is an avid fan of his videos. In these photos, he sets fire to objects, using matches his father owned, in a desperate clutch to feel closer to him after he’s gone.

Our true journey begins when Bruno sets out to meet Danni after running away from home.

We delve down a raw, moody, and atmospheric rabbit hole where Bruno learns more and more about himself and his queer identity.

Trauma is at the root of this film, including how we choose to deal with it, as explored by the dangerous practices in which Bruno seeks his escape.

This film grounds itself in the realistic values that are core to religious societies, where kids grow confused, putting themselves in dangerous situations. With Bruno finally finding fellow pyromaniacs, it’s a recipe for disaster as it grows out of control. But in the end, it is only up to Bruno to end his journey and find new ways to cope.

All the Fires is a stunning film. Set in Mexico, the color grading resonates with its surroundings and the audience. It’s a solid piece of filmmaking that will stick with me for some time. I appreciated how seriously and delicately the film treated the issues it tackled. It’s hard to find anything negative to say about it.

Writer-director Rico avoids making All the Fires a cliche coming-of-age story we have all seen before. The tale blossoms into a realistic portrayal that I think many of today’s youth would really resonate with upon viewing.

Even with its bleakness and heavy subject matter—exploring the feeling of being trapped in figuring out who you are—the film leaves viewers optimistic and hopeful.

With stellar performances, captivating surroundings, and plenty of drama. All the Fires is a film everyone should experience.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 4

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