Rated 3.0

Newcomer María Mercedes Coroy stars in this austere Guatemalan film as María, teenage daughter to a laborer on a coffee plantation, arranged to be married to the westernized boss while secretly canoodling with a migrant worker. María and her family observe their indigenous tribal customs, and yet the coldness and manipulation of the modern world intrude into their lives on a daily basis. The family resides in a hut at the foot of an active volcano, a black rock seething with fire, central in their religious ceremonies as well as an all-purpose metaphor for the passion churning beneath María’s placid surface. A frank depiction of sexuality is one of the film’s strongest assets, but the attempts to force melodrama fall flat, and the protagonist is such a moon-faced cipher that it feels almost insultingly respectful. There’s nothing glaringly wrong with Ixcanul, it’s just hard to get whipped up for stoicism. D.B.