Miss Bala: A Tale of Traffickers and Tiaras | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Miss Bala: A Tale of Traffickers and Tiaras

A new film depicts the drug war from the POV of—and as perpetrated by—a Mexican beauty queen.


A movie poster for Miss Bala.
Photo via

By Hunter R. Slaton


| Share

Director Gerardo Naranjo’s new Spanish-language film Miss Bala is ostensibly about the bloody Mexican drug war—through the eyes of an aspiring beauty pageant contestant—but plays out more like a David Lynch-ian descent into hell for its female lead, played by Stephanie Sigman. Miss Bala (“Miss Bullet”) is based on the true story of former Miss Hispanic America Laura Zuniga, aka “Miss Narco,” who made headlines in 2008 when she was busted on drug trafficking charges.

Laura is first seen at home in Tijuana with her brother and father, who expresses reservations about her getting involved with “those people” at the pageant. She goes anyway, meeting up with a friend who eases her path—and who later gets caught in up in an attack on a nightclub by a group of ragtag cartel warriors. Seeking to find out what happened to her friend, Laura gets handed over to the gang—led by the malevolent Lino Valdez (Noe Hernandez)—and forced to participate in a variety of crimes and reprisals against the DEA and the Mexican army and police. Not a bump of cocaine or a bud of weed is seen; rather, the somewhat context-free violence takes place against the backdrop of daily civilian life in Tijuana, as the cartels execute military-style maneuvers. One of the best scenes depicts Laura hiking home, with bombed-out Tijuana buildings ablaze in the distance. But the film gets weirder from there: The pageant crowning is surreal, and the depredations to which Laura is subjected grow more lurid. A pre-credits summary of the costs of the drug war (36,000 dead, a $25-billion-a-year industry) attempts to tie the movie back to reality. But by then, things have gone too far off the deep end to mean much.

Now playing in New York and Los Angeles; opens in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, and Houston this Friday.

Miss Bala Trailer Reloaded English from Miss Bala on Vimeo.

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
An Audience with Gabor Maté

According to the rock star of addiction theory, every addict had a traumatic childhood whether they realize it or not.

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv