Review: Post Tenebras Lux
- Credit: Archant
Mexico's Carlos Reygadas's most acclaimed film Silent Light is remembered best for its stunning opening and closing scenes, lengthy unbroken shots of the sun coming up and setting over the same country horizon.
Doesn't seem like much written down but on screen they were simply astonishing.
For his latest film, he's surpassed even those. A small girl wanders amongst livestock – cattle, horses and dogs – in the Mexican countryside at dusk as a thunderstorm approaches. He employs an extreme focus that makes it look as if it was shot through the bulb casing of a lighthouse lamp. The effect is extraordinary – innocent and charming yet disturbing and with a quite sickening sense of foreboding. In the next scene, a red demon explores a family house at night.
Two scenes in and already audiences know that they are going to get thrown around. Like Holy Motors, the thrill of Post Tenebras Lux is having no idea what is going to happen next and yet somehow feeling sure that it does make sense, even if not quite to you. The film centres on an affluent couple who have decided to build a home and raise a family in the fecund Mexican countryside. From there, though, the narrative splinters off in every direction, springing back and forth in time and possibly skipping over into parallel realities.
There is a suspicion with Reygardas that he is a maker of arty films rather than an actual film artist; a genre film-maker whose pretensions are the equivalent of Michael Bay's explosions and bikini clad babes or J J Abrams's blue flares. Maybe so, but here he has come up with something that is quite singular.
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It is opaque and inscrutable but also a very simple and very direct expression of the fears and insecurities provoked by parenthood.
Doubtless many viewers will feel cheated by its tricks and turns. But, for me, it is a poignant vision of life that is both incredibly callous and utterly joyful.
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POST TENEBRAS LUX (18)
Director: Carlos Reygadas
Starring: Adolfo Jiménez Castro, Nathalia Acevedo, Willebaldo Torres, Rut Reygadas and Eleazar Reygadas Length: 115 mins