Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Dec 5, 2013
    60
    Interesting as it is, Narco Cultura aims to tell the story of what’s happened in Juarez and in Mexico (and, by virtue of its immense appetite for drugs, the U.S.). Instead, it feels more like a couple of intriguing chapters.
  2. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Dec 4, 2013
    89
    Narco Cultura smartly and movingly focuses on the cultural cycle of violence, beginning with a young, Los Angeles-based rapper, Edgar Quintero, whose main job is penning lyrics celebrating the orgiastically violent lifestyles of the drug thugs for his band Buknas de Culiacán.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Dec 13, 2013
    91
    Interviewed in the film, Juárez journalist Sandra Rodriguez offers up this grim summation: “That these people represent the ideal of success, impunity, and limitless power is symptomatic of how defeated we are as a society.”
  4. Reviewed by: William Goss
    Nov 21, 2013
    81
    A potent encapsulation of how fame and finance beget fear and grief.
  5. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Dec 5, 2013
    80
    What this film does is reveal two very different societies — both exhibiting, each in its own way, unmistakable signs of collapse.
  6. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Nov 21, 2013
    88
    Narco Cultura isn’t a documentary about runaway crime: Its actual subject is far stranger.
  7. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Nov 21, 2013
    40
    The dissection and discussion, though well-intentioned, winds up lifeless.
  8. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Nov 22, 2013
    50
    Set to Jeremy Turner's spare and mournful score, Narco Cultura is ultimately more pensive than lurid.
  9. Reviewed by: Steven Boone
    Nov 22, 2013
    100
    Just over the Mexico/U.S. border from Juarez is El Paso, Texas, ranked the safest large city in America three years in a row now. The question that that fact begs is in part why this film is a quietly subversive masterpiece.
  10. Reviewed by: Tomas Hachard
    Nov 18, 2013
    75
    Director Shaul Schwarz, sans judgment, presents us with two men who epitomize how accepted and engrained narco culture has become in Mexico.
  11. Reviewed by:  Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
    Nov 20, 2013
    100
    If it weren’t for "The Act Of Killing," Narco Cultura would be the year’s queasiest documentary. The film — which counterposes Quintero’s day-to-day life with that of Richi Soto, a crime-scene investigator in Juarez — is both an unflinching record of Mexico’s drug war and an investigation of how violence becomes unreal and glamorized.
  12. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Nov 20, 2013
    80
    Narco Cultura makes it abundantly, forcefully clear that the illicit business of narcocorridos thrives on the illicit business of cartels—and business is still booming.
  13. Reviewed by: Justin Lowe
    Nov 21, 2013
    50
    Passably absorbing to start, Shaul Schwarz’s examination of the issues surrounding Mexican and immigrant musicians who glorify drug lords and their exploits gradually bogs down in repetition and narrative inertia.
  14. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Nov 21, 2013
    40
    Narco Cultura feels like two short films sandwiched together to make a feature. One is a shallow pop-music documentary focusing on Mr. Quintero. The other is an equally superficial portrait of the embattled Ciudad Juárez, across the border from El Paso.
  15. Reviewed by: Rodrigo Perez
    Nov 21, 2013
    83
    Narco Cultura is gripping, gruesome and arresting; a disquieting look a pop (sub)-culture phenomenon that is mushrooming all over the United States and Latin America.
  16. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Nov 19, 2013
    80
    Ping-ponging between grisly South of the Border carnage and Angeleno musician Edgar Quintero’s growing success as one of the subgenre’s stars, you start to see how this parasitic relationship works.
  17. Reviewed by: Geoff Berkshire
    Nov 19, 2013
    90
    Narco Cultura is as overwhelming as it is absorbing.
  18. Reviewed by: Ernest Hardy
    Nov 19, 2013
    90
    Schwarz's juxtaposition of the human cost of the drug war alongside the glamorization of its henchmen and their brutality is sobering, even depressing.
  19. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Dec 5, 2013
    75
    By the end of this troubling film, the cognitive dissonance that it highlights — between the theoretical glorification of the illegal Mexican drug industry and its actual cost in blood — is jarring. It’s an important film, but Narco Cultura is also maddeningly hard to watch.

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