Time Out says
It’s the defiant lack of sentimentality that marks the film. It begins scratching around a gang of street kids, headed by cocksure, reform-school escapee Jaibo (Roberto Cobo), who eke out a living robbing the blind and the legless, then hones in on little Pedro (Alfonso Mejía), Jaibo’s unwitting accomplice in the murder of the grass who jailed him. Your sympathy never dwells anywhere for long – Pedro himself’s no innocent, while a robbed blind busker later molests a young woman – yet neither is anyone completely condemned; even beneath Jaibo’s maliciousness lies a childish vulnerability.
‘Los Olvidados’ exposes the murderer inside us all; his characters do bad things out of poverty, fear, a lack of love, not evil. Neorealistic observation and location shooting may have been its basis (DeSica’s ‘Shoeshine’ was an influence), but Buñuel’s abiding surrealism leads us deeper into the grim milieu’s impact on inner lives, notably in an unsettling slow-mo dream sequence that compounds all Pedro’s Oedipal insecurities. It’s a masterpiece that tangles individual and social ills into a knot, which, as we’re warned in an opening voiceover, it offers no easy way to untie, rousing a sickening sense of injustice. The final shot, of a dumped child’s body followed by a swoop skywards that suddenly freezes, is simply paralysing.
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