DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

Kings of the World (Los Reyes del Mundo)

Colombian blend of road movie and lost youth drama follows five teens in search of an elusive inheritance - from the San Sebastian Film Festival


Rá, Culebro, Sere, Winny and Nano are all aged between 12 and 19 and live on the chaotic streets of Medellin. They have no relatives, and instead consider themselves a real family. These five boys address each other with an affectionate “hermanito” (little brother) and indeed have a fraternal relationship. That’s in fact their only support network, in a brutal city where violence is often the main currency and people have little time for the hardship of the poor, however young and hopeless these victims of the system may be.

This international co-production between two Latin American (Colombia and Mexico) and three European nations (France, Norway and Luxembourg) has all the ingredients necessary in order to please audiences on both sides of the Atlantic: street violence, abject poverty and a journey of redemption. Our five little protagonists embark on a road trip to towards Rá’s native land somewhere in rural Colombia. The oldest of the fivesome wishes to claim a piece of land inherited from his grandmother. In Colombia, those fighting for land restitution through ancestry are often threatened and killed. The brave and yet ingenuous young people seem blithely unaware of the uphill struggle that they face. Uphill in both the literal and the metaphorical sense. The numerous challenges that they must overcome include the verdant hills of the rainforest that covers most of the South American country.

The most beautiful scene of the film takes place in a brothel, one of the many stops on their long journey. This is the only place where they receive genuine affection from strangers. One of the boys rests his head on the lap of a prostitute, while the other ones dance with the much older ladies. It reminded me of the moment in which a prostitute breastfeeds the child protagonist of the classic Pixote (Hector Babenco, 1981), one of the most powerful scenes in the history of Latin American cinema.

The first half of the film features various adrenaline-fuelled sequences, such as three of the boys riding on top of a lorry on a precarious hillside side, with two of them attaching themselves with the vehicle with a tiny rope while riding their motorbikes. An abrupt turn could lead to sudden death. Yet they seem elated with joy. The young kings think that they are about to reach the top of the world. Their ambitions, however, are thwarted once they arrive at the local notary. They find out that the legal barriers that they have to overcome are much taller than the dangerous mountains that they just climbed. Despite being on the right side of the law, they are treated with indifference and disdain, a predicament familiar to many Colombians battling for a piece of land.

The second half of the film is far more introspective. Two of the kings fall on their journey (as all monarchs eventually do), and the tone of the film becomes far more thoughtful and reflective. Perhaps a little too meditative even. The final sequence is pretentiously philosophical and poorly staged, compromising the integrity of an otherwise fairly effective film.

Kings of the World has just premiered in the Official Competition of the 70th San Sebastian International Film Festival/ Donostia Zinemaldia.

By Victor Fraga - 21-09-2022

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
Sexual diversity is at the very heart of [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Films quotes are very powerful not just because [Read More...]

Read More

The Nobodies (Los Nadie)

Juan Sebastián Mesa

Tiago Di Mauro - 12-09-2016

The crowning of the anarcho-punks: extremely low-budget Colombian movie about a group of five disenfrashised young rebels in Medellín wows Venice and takes home key critics' prize - now showing at Raindance [Read More...]


Hector Babenco

Maysa Monção - 15-09-2018

Classic of Brazilian realism remains equally moving and disturbing nearly 40 years after its original release - shows at the BFI London Film Festival taking place October 10th-12th [Read More...]

One city, one planet, many films


Marina Hillquist - 23-07-2024

Marina Hillquist investigates the environmental impact of film production, and reveals how Gainesville (a city in Florida, United States) is leading the way [Read More...]