Everybody works. That's the dismaying takeaway from Eugenio Polgovsky's haunting documentary, which he filmed over the course of two years in dirt-poor rural regions of Mexico. What you remember most are the children, many of them barely past toddler age, herding animals, gathering wood and slogging buckets of vegetables picked from sunburnt fields. In a particularly harrowing scene, a young boy carves a cat-shaped sculpture---probably bound for a tourist shop---with a machete, the blade barely missing his exposed hand time and again. (When he does finally slice his finger with a whittling knife, the boy barely flinches and uses Scotch tape to cover the wound.)
While the kids are the primary focus of Polgovsky's intimate and probing DV compositions, the grown-ups are usually pushed to the side---their backs turned or their bodies clipped from the waist up as if this were a UNESCO-approved Peanuts cartoon. It's a bold stylistic choice that initially gives the proceedings the feel of an innocent lark, which only slowly reveals itself as an inescapable nightmare. When adults are shown full face and body, they tend to be elderly workers who hobble around on crutches while toiling at tasks from chicken-feeding to loom knitting. Toward the end of the film, a few hard-hitting cuts between young and old brings the title's meaning home: These children have an inescapable life of drudgery before them, and there's little likelihood it will change anytime soon.
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