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Battle in Heaven (Unrated)

Release Date: February 17th, 2006 (Angelika Film Center) by Tartan Films.
The Cast: Marcos HernŠndez, Anapola Mushkadiz, Bertha Ruiz, David Bornstien, Rosalinda Ramirez.
Directed by Carlos Reygadas.
In Spanish with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: After a kidnapping-for-ransom goes wrong, Marcos (HernŠndez), a generalís driver, confesses everything to the generalís daughter (Mushkadiz).

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Very little happens in Battle in Heaven in terms of plot and character development. Marcos feels bad for accidentally killing a baby he kidnapped and help for ransom. His wife (Ruiz) becomes furious at him for telling the crime to Ana, a generalís daughter who also happens to be a prostitute. Marcos has sex with Ana and then goes back to his wife and has sex with her. It would have been more interesting if Marcos was more complex and lively, but in ever scene, he just comes across as dull and unlikable. The opening and closing shots will make you feel like youíre watching a porno filmómuch of which looks disgusting to the point of making you cringe with disbelief. This might be the first film in recent memory to include lengthy sexy scenes with two very fat peopleóbut whatís the real point? What does it have to do with the plot? Many scenes feel pointless and redundant, although with impressive cinematography. Some scenes have absolutely no dialogue, but they seem more like an unnecessary artsy gimmick without an authentic, realistic feel. The third act could have been suspenseful when the police gradually hunt down Marcos, but, still, very little happens to hold your attention. When something finally happens, it just feels too random and out-of-place. Writer/director Carlos Reygadas allows most of the film to flow at an excruciatingly sluggish pace that will cause many to yawn from boredom.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Battle in Heaven briefly explores religious redemption, but without going too deep into the interesting subject. Marcos feels guilt, but itís hard to really grasp whatís going on in his mind because most of the time his expressions are so blank. Ultimately, youíre left with an empty feeling inside with nothing learned or gained from this film.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Wafer-thin, redundant plot and boring characters.


IN A NUTSHELL: Well-shot, but ultimately pointless, grotesque, perverse, redundant and excruciatingly slow-paced. Essentially, itís like a porno film with a very thin plot.


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