Mexico-France-Germany-Netherlands 2012. Dir: Carlos Reygadas; Scr: Carlos Reygadas
According to Mark Kermode, they say that the best films give you what you bring to them. And Reygadas is too intelligent to pretend that our emotional and psychological make-up is simple or one-dimensional. He himself describes the film as an impressionist painting. He makes it in an unusual way: the screen is square and the edges are blurred – we are outside looking in; the narrative is non-linear and reality, fantasy and dream sequences are mixed, and; he uses the gradual amplification of background noise, cicada or rain, to intensify our reactions. Again he juxtaposes sublime beauty with the uncomfortably raw, in this case, to explore “all that men want”, lamenting the loss of innocence and lost connections (with people, nature and simplicity). Central to the story are a couple Juan and Natalia and their two beautiful young children. The physical side of their marriage has deteriorated to the level of frank negotiation. Juan’s frustration, taken out in his mistreatment of his dog and gardener – “I always hurt the ones I love most”, leads to sexual fantasy and use of pornography. At the same time, his wealth is a source of jealousy for one of his more mercenary employees, who has left his wife and children behind in search of a “better” life.
Reygadas exposes the tenebrio, the person who lurks in the dark, of the personalities of all his adult male characters. While no man is spared, we do see love, attempts to rebuild broken lives and desperate remorse reflected. Although the film is altogether darker than his miraculous Silent Light (and we do have to look quite hard for “lux”), we feel it strongly and experience it richly from the extraordinary opening sequence throughout. The viewer does bring much to this film, but is given back, in more questions than answers, something powerful that haunts for days.
Also by Carlos Reygadas:
Silent Light (2009)
Battle In Heaven (2005)