Carlos Reygadas

(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | TErms of use )

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Carlos Reygadas (Mexico, 1971)


Batalla En El Cielo/ Battle in Heaven (2005) opens with an act of oral sex.

Luz Silenciosa/ Silent Light (2007), influenced by Dreyer's Ordet, is set in the countryside among a community of Mennonites, an exotic Christian sect originally from Holland (played by non-professional actors from that very community) that still practices the old customs and speaks in a Dutch-like language. The language and the extremely slow pace make it difficult for the viewer to appreciate Reygadas' meditation. On the other hand, Reygadas' very long shots give the viewer time to fully absorb what is going on. The camera continues to show the scene long after words have been spoken instead of moving on to the next scene. There is only one magic moment that escapes the monotonous psychological drilling of the film: when the woman who caused the tragedy talks to the woman who died in that tragedy. Then the film moves back to the beginning (the first scene was night followed by sunrise, the last scene is sunset followed by night). What initially had seemed a pastoral, idyllic world, is now a cruel, damned world, but it is the exact same place. These three people's tragedy was just another day in the incomprehensible history of the world.

The camera slowly reveals the nocturnal soundscape as the sun rises. The soundtrack is the voices of animals as they wake up. A wall clock ticks in a room. In another room a Mennonite family is praying around the table before eating breakfast. They reopen their eyes after a long silence. After the mother and the children leave, the man is left alone in the room with the ticking clock. And he starts sobbing. Later he meets his friend Zacarias and the two chat about his extramarital affair: Johan has fallen in love with Marianne and, while feeling guilty about the pain he is inflicting on his good wife Esther, the mother of their six children, he just can't resist. Zacarias actually encourages him to choose Marianne, as if destiny shouldn't be stopped. Johan drives away playfully singing a song that is playing on the radio. On one of those dusty roads carved in immense fields with views that extend to infinite he is going to his appointment with the woman of his life, Marianne. They kiss tenderly for a long time. Later the children are playing in the river. The parents wash them. Johan invites Esther to swim with him. She knows, she cries, but she also smiles at his kindness. His father knows too. He wants to have a private chat with Johan. Initially, he reproaches Johan, but then he basically leave him free to make his own decision and, after telling him that he himself had the same temptation when he was young, he admits that he sort of envies him.
Jshe ohan makes love to Marianne. They desire each other. But at the end she cries. She feels pity for Esther. Then she utters a cryptic "peace is stronger than love". Nonetheless she doesn't regret anything.
When Johan tells Esther that he is seeing Marianne again, it is Esther who pities Marianne. They are driving on a highway in the middle of a storm. She tells him to stop the car and goes to cry against a tree. After waiting for a while, Johan gets out of the car and looks for her. He finds her dead. At the hospital the doctor tells him that she died of a massive heart attack.
At the funeral Johan cries and blames himself. Marianne comes to console him but also to see Esther one more time. dead. While they are hugging, she protects herself from the sun. The other people who are assembled in the house don't seem to care that the cause of Esther's death is seeing her now that she's dead. Marianne, alone in the room of the coffin, even kisses Esther on the mouth. A tear rolls down Esther's cheek. She wakes up, sobbing a little bit and her first words re of pity for Johan, but Marianne replies that he is ok now. Johan is outside with the rest of the people, in the room with the ticking wall clock. Two of Erther's children are the first one to see her mom alive again. Marianne leaves in silence. One of the children, Anita, calls in vain her father. He finally listens to his daughter and walks to the room. Inside the other girl is still chatting with her mother; but of course, she is dead. The miracle of the resurrection happened only for a brief moment between the two women united in the love and pity of Johan, and it briefly happened also in the minds of the two girls.
A very long shot shows the landscape drowning in sunset, and eventually returning exactly like it was at the beginning of the film.

Post Tenebras Lux (2012) is an intensely metaphorical film, somewhere between Lynch and Tarkovsky territories, filmed through lenses that blur the contours around the focus creating a sort of aura around the heads of people. The chronology is mostly respected except for flashbacks and flashforwards that feel like footnotes, commentaries, corollaries to the main story. By the end of the film, most of the scenes reveal their function in the plot except for the two scenes about rugby that remain cryptic to the end.

A child is running after cows in a muddy field, all alone. She is surrounded by horses, donkeys and dogs, but there are no humans. It gets dark and a storm is approaching.
A red demon enters a living room, then walks to the kitchen, carrying an aluminum toolbox (perhaps a premonition of the burglary that will take place later).
A man rides a horse into the woods, carrying a chainsaw to fell a tree.
The child, Rut, wakes up after dreaming the animals and calls for her mom, Natalia. They wake up her father Juan and her brother Eleazar. The family looks happy in their isolated house in the countryside.
However, Rut's affectionate father Juan is showing beating a dog like a maniac until his wife screams from the house to stop.
Juan asks his worker Jarro to borrow his camera.
Juan joins a group that meets in a humble shack. Mostly they are alcoholics who confess their addiction. Juan has a different problem: he tells recovering alcoholic Seven (the worker with the chainsaw) that he is hooked on Internet pornography. He cannot make love to his wife if first he doesn't watch pornography on the Internet.
British teenagers are warming up for a rugby game.
A few years later there will be a family party. Eleazar and Rut (both older) and all the other children will gather around a great-granma distributing presents, while adults gossip outside.
A flashback shows Natalia and Juan in France. They are half naked in a sauna with naked women and men listening in silence to men sodomizing another man. They ask for the room "Duchamp". it's Natalia and Juan The room is full of naked man of various age groups who stare at the young couple. Without saying a word Juan takes off Natalia's towel and offers her to the men while two naked women peek from the other room. A young man makes love to Natalia while a middle-aged woman is caressing her head and whispering to her. Natalia has an orgasm.
A neighbor of Juan asks Seven to cut down a tree to provoke a hated sister.
Another flashforward (the kids are teenagers) shows Juan's family at the beach.
Back to the present, the family is having dinner together. Juan is worried because the veterinary is suspicious after the dog died. He wants to stop killing the dogs, especially the one he likes most. Juan and Natalia argue. Their marriage is falling apart. She is ready for a divorce.
Juan is driving on a highway, the children asleep in the back seat. He grabs Natalia's hand. They have to stop and turn back because she forgot something at home. Juan leaves the family with his worker Jarro and drives home alone. At the house he senses that something is out of order and catches Seven and a friend stealing his electronic equipment. Seven shoots him, then runs away with his friend, dogs barking like crazy.
Before sunrise a boat is advancing through tall reeds. Inside two people are sleeping, one is rowing and one is playing with the water. It's Eleazar and Rut now teenagers taken to a hunting trip by someone who looks like Seven.
Old men smoking pot in the countryside and playing chess gossip that Juan lost part of a lung. Juan at home is tended by Natalia, who plays the piano and sings a song in English (Neil Young's "It's a Dream"). Juan's mind wanders into existential meditations. Juan doesn't remember who did it and hasn't told the police yet.
Seven gets off a pickup truck. A little girl runs to hug him. Seven hasn't seen his family in a long time. His wife Samanta is cold and unforgiving. They live in a decrepit concrete-block house. Seven then visits Juan's house and finds the children playing outside: they tell him that Juan is dead. Back to Samanta's house, Seven realizes that she ran away with the children to make sure he'll never find them again.
The red demon enters the house again carrying the same toolbox.
Trees are falling in the forest. Seven is standing alone in the middle of a nearby meadow, staring at the forest and then collapsing on the grass, crying. He remains there while it starts raining.
The British kids are playing rugby.
(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )