A prizewinner at Sundance last year, In the Pit takes an up-close look at the construction of the Second Deck, a freeway spanning ten and a half miles high above Mexico City. We get to know a handful of the project’s thousands of workers as they go about the daily grind, passing downtime by singing songs, joking around with the camera and each other, and looking out for attractive women far below. Given the obviously dangerous conditions, most of the workers are surprisingly jocular. But an underlying darkness pervades: One man refers in passing to his arrests for domestic violence, while another notes grimly, “A man gets used to everything except work.” And all smiles aside, the word used over and over again by the workmen to describe their jobs is hell.
While lacking any real sense of structure or narrative urgency, In the Pit eventually settles into a pleasant-enough rhythm, thanks largely to its terrific soundtrack, a virtual musique concrte of power tools, rumbling cars and human voices. Director Juan Carlos Rulfo finds the visual equivalent of this ambient sound with lyrical images of headlights flooding the highway and time-lapse montages of the construction’s progress, culminating in a lengthy helicopter shot showing the entire Second Deck in one unbroken take. (Opens Fri; Cinema Village.)—Joshua Land