Emily Blunt is Spanish for Hitman in SICARIO


This conversation is almost as weird as that Drudge report article in December claiming Leonardo DiCaprio was “raped by a bear” in The Revenant. Almost.


Damn my naive belief in the power of communication. Now I know that if I stretch my legs on this I’ll get accused of pulling a gurugeorge in the Star Wars topic, so I’ll be terse as possible. Let’s gettttt itttt:

When your dog jumps up on your guests at the front door, she’s not having sex with them. She is dominating them. The two things are different. I’m not sure why you insist upon conflating them in this instance.

When you talk about rape, sex and domination are mixed. To suggest that rape be used for the purposes of domination is only an accurate statement of one of its terrible aims, and conflates nothing. Consider the Kate/Ted sex/fight scene for a consideration of this within the movie.

what is the end-game to raping the man exactly? Can you explain that to me?

To assert in the most violent way possible Guillermo’s powerlessness in this situation. To induce some existential despair before waterboarding him.

The man is humiliated already. Now he has to be broken. Water will do fine. And much more efficiently in the universe of this movie, and this character.

Guillermo is not humiliated. At the outset he is confident, despite the fact that his hands are tied behind his back. He is only discomfited when Alejandro arrives. You aren’t supporting your beliefs about waterboarding with examples from the text. You know what unambiguously gets stuff done in Sicario’s torture scenes? Alejandro sticking himself into the victim’s body. You acknowledged how good the filmmaking is when he puts his finger in Jon Bernthal’s ear.

I guess del Toro brought the jug of water because he gets really thirsty after sodomizing people he’s supposed to interrogate?

I’m suggesting that rape is plausible, not that waterboarding will not occur. I agree that waterboarding will occur.

I think I’ve proven I can be swayed by a logical argument. I haven’t heard one yet.

Turn down that gaslight, it’s too bright!

Why’s Jeffrey Donovan leave the room?
Why’s sexual assault out of bounds for Alejandro? (When he puts a gun in Manuel Diaz’s back, he says, “If you try anything your daughters will be violated by 20 men.”)
Why’s sexual assault out of bounds for this movie?
Why do you think that waterboarding is inconsistent with assault?
What do you think that rhythmic grunting is all about?

That’s the thing that confuses me about this discussion. We have an engineered piece of ambiguity from Villeneuve, and a bunch of people lining up to say that it is not ambiguous, no way.


I appreciate you taking my questions and points to heart, and trying to answer them. That’s more like it!

First of all, I wouldn’t characterize Guillermo’s state of mind when Alejandro arrives as “discomfited”…I’d say he is shaken. Even terrified. He’s far more than simply embarrassed. And when Alejandro violates–that is to say, penetrates–his personal space to that degree, he is indeed humiliated. That’s what makes Matt Graver’s line so great.

I don’t understand your point about rape inducing existential despair. Are you suggesting that the experience of drowning cannot do that on its own? And much more effectively than raping your prisoner, which debases them both, incidentally.

At any rate, I’ll try to address your list of questions:

  1. He leaves the room for plausible deniability before an illegal act of torture is committed. I see no evidence that he leaves because he is squeamish, as you say. If he were squeamish because some raping was about to go down, I would expect him to be explicit about that, not just walk off and turn off the camera. Furthermore, if he were squeamish, he would leave the camera on…accidentally. I just don’t think there is any there there in your Jeffrey Donovan squeamishly leaves the room argument. I think this is planned and, if not rehearsed…standard.

  2. I’m not saying sexual assault is out of bounds for Alejandro. I’m sure in his quest for revenge he’s capable of it. I just don’t see it as an efficient use of his time and power in this scene. And I don’t see any evidence for it that is compelling.

  3. I’m not saying sexual assault is out of bounds for this movie. I’m saying it makes no sense for this scene. You can make an argument that Villeneuve is trying to lead us there, to up the sense of dread and threat of rape in the movie overall, but I’d argue against that. I think he’s clear about avoiding that. Look at the date scene. When she goes for her gun, the next thought isn’t rape. It’s killing. I think the movie is way too ruthless and efficient to waste time with that. That is not to say it is out of bounds.

  4. I don’t even understand this question. Of course waterboarding is assault. I’m saying forced sex isn’t a necessary component for waterboarding to work. Being drowned is its own reward, and a prisoner doesn’t have to be raped first in order for drowning to break him. (Assuming you believe torture works, which I actually don’t. But devil’s advocate in this case.)

  5. Rhythmic grunting. I would say this is your most effective question, as you’ve forced me to really analyze a few seconds of audio and upon doing so I agree. It sounds sexual in isolation. I think you can make a case for that if you want to hear that. I said that before. But again, this is in isolation. I think hanging your hat on a rape taking place, when the evidence is overwhelming that such an act makes no logical sense based on the rest of the evidence of the scene, is ultimately weak. This director is not shy. Why wouldn’t he just show Alejandro bending the guy over the chair? I’m sorry, Mr. Zero, but a little grunting simply cannot support the rest of the idea for me. It just doesn’t work. Because it doesn’t make sense for the scene. Again, I’m not saying it is out of bounds, I’m saying it does not make sense for the scene, and a little rhythmic grunting isn’t enough for me. It is simply Alejandro preparing him to be waterboarded. Which is, by the way, why we are focused on a drain and a huge water bottle.

So maybe it’s ambiguous. I see your argument. I just disagree. Because I think the obvious answer is obvious.

“Sticking himself into the victim’s body” was a line that made me laugh in your comment, though. No disrespect. And I’m sorry I made you think you were crazy with my gaslight.



Well I’m satisfied with the exchange. Few more things worth covering:

First, whoops, when I said “Why do you think that waterboarding is inconsistent with assault?” I meant why couldn’t rape and waterboarding occur in the same scenario.

I don’t understand your point about rape inducing existential despair. Are you suggesting that the experience of drowning cannot do that on its own? And much more effectively than raping your prisoner, which debases them both, incidentally.

The more macho the man, the more likely he is to consider rape a fate worse than death. As a cartel member, Guillermo could very likely prefer waterboarding to rape, and might even consider the latter unimaginable in this scenario. (“Now you’ll learn what’s hell in Yankee land”).

As for debasing them both, here’s a bit from a Wikipedia page on homosexuality in ancient Rome: “Roman men were free to enjoy sex with other males without a perceived loss of masculinity or social status, as long as they took the dominant or penetrative role.” That belief persists today.

Donovan knows the waterboarding is forthcoming. If he were concerned about plausible deniability he’d probably have left before the torture device is lugged into the room. The line that he leaves on is this: “Aw, Alejandro, I think he remembers you.” Obviously a sexually charged line, considering the blocking. Let’s compare the filmed scene to the one Taylor Sheridan imagined in the script:

A door opens and we find GUILLERMO, 45, fat, three day
stubble, and very unhappy to be here. His hands are cuffed
behind his back. A DEA AGENT holds a bottle of water that
Guillermo sucks like an infant.
Matt walks in.

Giving him a belly full of water...
you devil.

Matt smiles, the agent smiles back.
Matt sits in the only other chair in the room.

Didn’t think we’d get you here, did

No hablo--

I love it when they don’t hablo.
Brought an old buddy of yours. Bet
you ‘hablo’ to him.

The door opens and Alejandro walks in, carrying two five
gallon jugs of water. It takes Guillermo a minute, then
horror washes over his face.

El Medellin.

Alejandro, he remembers you.
No expression on Alejandro’s face.
The DEA Agent moves to the door.

I’m gonna step out.
He closes the door behind him. The red ‘record’ button on the
camera mounted in the corner goes out. We notice a DRAIN IN

Alejandro walks toward Guillermo, stands across from him.
Places a foot on his chest. Pushes... Hard... Guillermo sways
back, like a chopped tree. He moves through frame in slow
motion, falling out of frame.

So what did Villeneuve remove? The unambiguous shot at the end that indicates waterboarding. What did he add? Alejandro putting his crotch in Guillermo’s face, rhythmic grunting.

I think you can make a case for that if you want to hear that. I said that before.

I don’t want to hear anything – that’s what it sounds like to me, and I’m working backwards from that disconcerting perception.

This director is not shy. Why wouldn’t he just show Alejandro bending the guy over the chair?

He’s not shy about violence, no. So if this were typical violence, why wouldn’t he just show it?


I appreciate your reply, Mr. Zero, but let me be clear on a point you make that I think misses my point. Again, perhaps I was not clear.

When I used the phrase “debases them both” I wasn’t talking about anal sex. So I’m not really sure why you felt the need to bring a Wikipedia entry about homosexual acts in ancient Rome into the discussion. I’m talking about sexual violence as a loss of control in the interrogation room. That’s what I mean by saying a rape debases them both. Anal sex, whether homosexual or heterosexual, has absolutely nothing to with it. No matter who is pitching and who is catching. Surely you see there is a difference between that, and our discussion of rape?



Rhythmic grunting? It sounds like someone struggling as he’s being held down against his will. Perhaps Villeneuve wanted it to sound sexual. I might even grant you that since you’re so bound and determined to hang your hat on a few seconds of muffled audio. But that doesn’t mean he wanted it to suggest rape any more than he wants you to think a giant spider is terrorizing Toronto. Soren put it best when he said you’re focusing on subtext at the exclusion of text.



Ahh… at this point it’s pretty clear to me that our discussion is in fact two separate discussions that we’re having in isolation. Let me try to recalibrate to your angle: if Alejandro sexually violated Guillermo, that would read as a loss of control. To whom? Matt? Himself? The viewer?

I’m excluding the text when I’m talking about audio from the text?

I haven’t seen Enemy, so I can’t speak to that. But do you think a man being sexually degraded in an interrogation room when the camera is switched off is as fantastical as a giant spider terrorizing Toronto?


Yes, I do. Which is why I made the comparison. They’re equally far-fetched misreadings of their respective movies.



I definitely thought it was going to be waterboarding…I mean he carries a big jug of water in there. But. The scene ends with a shot of the drain, dry, and the jug sitting next to it. And the background sound, to me, sounds more like some kind of rape than waterboarding.


I’ve seen the movie twice and both times I remember debating with myself whether rape was the torture method used or not. The way Del Toro’s character spread the other character’s legs apart and stood with his crotch in his face seemed very sexually dominant and aggressive, and I wouldn’t blame anyone who thought the subsequent grunting sounded sexual. But at the same time none of the characters involved were portrayed like they’re the type to use rape as a means of torture, plus they have the tools for waterboarding, waterboarding is known to be a used and effective interrogation method, etc. I think the scene is intentionally ambiguous, but I’m not sure what the implication of possible rape would be used for, aside from making viewers compare rape to waterboarding torture. Sicario didn’t seem to me like the kind of movie that was about making small points, and the merits of torture wasn’t the main point of the movie.

I dunno. I ultimately didn’t get hung up on that scene. It happens quickly and the only later reference to that scene was about the information they got, not about anything else, and the movie quickly moved on.


Emily Blunt’s character is callously used, every attempt to establish her ageny is shut down or turned against her to domnstrate how utterly powerless she is. In the abstract, it mirrors a sexual assault. Depicting the male characters with that aggressive, rapey masculinity reinforces that theme, but actually depiciting rape feels like it’d upstage it.

“Just let it happen.”


Now I’m wondering where you were during the Bush Administration.


The delivery of that line was my least favorite part of the movie.


I was defending Toronto from a giant spider invasion. Boy did I feel silly when it never happened.



Neither of which is the same as rape. But part of how the US interacts with other countries and therefore part of what Sicario is about? Sure.





I totally agree and never said they were the same as rape. I was just trying to make the point that one character acting in a sexually dominant way, followed by off screen grunts, made me wonder whether rape was involved or not. I’m not surprised by people thinking rape was used. At the end of the day I assumed the torture involved waterboarding, because it seemed more inline with the characters and the theme of the movie.


I also believe the scene starts with a potential waterboarding and ends in rape. Not sure why there’s so much resistance to the idea. It’s not inconceivable.


Agreed. It’s just nonsensical.



It’s not inconceivable that Alejandro is making it like Abu Ghraib and showing a broom handle up Guillermo’s ass by the end of it, but leaping to that conclusion rather than waterboarding from the information the scene gives seems…uh weird.