Sunday, June 11, 2017

Post Tenebras Lux

Post Tenebras Lux; drama, Mexico / France / Netherlands, 2012; D: Carlos Reygadas, S: Adolfo Jiménez Castro, Nathalia Acevedo, Willebaldo Torres

A child wonders along the prarie, observing cows. A red, glowing silhuette of a Pan creature enters a house and walks across the corridors. Juan, a lumberjack, cuts some trees in the forest. He returns home to his wife, Nathalia, and their two little kids, Rut and Eleazar. Juan attends an alcohols-anonymous meeting where he talks to a friend, Seven. Juan and Nathalia celebrate Christmas with the relatives, visit a spa for swingers... However, Juan complains to Nathalia that she ignores him and avoids having sex with him. Their relationship falls apart in the rural life: he becomes sick, she takes the kids and leaves him. Finally, Juan goes to a meadow and rips his own head from his shoulders.

After striking a magnificent chord with some early excellent films, director Carlos Reygadas was rightfully panned by the critics for his disappointing film "Post Tenebras Lux", a movie that seems to have fallen into the trap of those loose art-films that follow a vague 'stream-of-consciousness' narrative and that all appeared near the beginning of the 21st Century. Just like them, "Lux" is an achievement without a plot — actually, the first hint of anything of what this should actually be about happens an hour into the film, when Juan has an argument with his wife Nathalia — roughly exploring the collapse and dissolution of a relationship of a couple with two kids, yet it is overburdened with a self-indulgent, chaotic and random style that exacerbates the already huge effort of the viewers to try to undertsand the film. The cinematography is great, with Alexis Zabe showing talent for handling the camera, but, unfortunately, the sequences and episodes are so arbirtrary and disjointed — the family playing on the beach; Juan and Nathalie driving on the road with the two kids sleeping in the car; dogs running; a party with the family relatives... — that make "Lux" almost seem like a family photo album at times. The lack of a clear story — and some magnificent style to compensate — debilitate the overall impression of this experimental film.


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