Sorcery Weaves a Tale of Magic in a Harsh World | Sundance 2023 Review

Sorcery arrived at the Sundance Film Festival and showed that there is still magic to be found in the world, though it can take on a frightening form.

For my last Sundance review of 2023, I watched Sorcery, an international film that caught my attention due to its setting. The story is set in 19th century Chile and follows a young Huiliche girl named Rosa (Valentina Véliz Caileo) who seeks justice after her father is murdered in cold blood by a German settler.

The best word to describe Sorcery is harsh. This is a story that puts the cruelties of life front and center and doesn’t pull any punches. Even the land looks bleak and harsh, and the sky is mostly gray and overcast. There’s nothing about the setting that induces a pleasant feeling, and that serves to make Rosa’s quest for justice feel that much harder.

What really struck me about this movie, aside from the harshness of the environment, is the path Rosa goes on in her quest for justice. As each appeal to the authorities fails, you can see Rosa inch closer and closer to the path she is seemingly destined to take. Despite being less than two hours long, the story doesn’t rush while playing out and everything is properly paced.

Part of me wishes the scenes of “magic” had a bit more explanation to them, but I understand why the director chose to keep certain elements vague. Sometimes a scene works better if the audience doesn’t know everything and that’s the case with Sorcery. That being said, I like how the film strongly implies all the magic being mentioned is very much real without openly showing anything.

It’s hard to say much more about Sorcery without giving away everything, but I will say I enjoyed this film very much and I hope it gets the opportunity to see a wider release in the US.


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Armed with a PhD. in Musicology, Becky spends much of her time blogging about movie music on her blog Film Music Central when she isn't otherwise occupied watching movies and her favorite anime series.