Reviews for January 7th, 2009
Directed by Carlos Reygadas.
In Plautdietsch with subtitles. In a rural Mexican Mennonite community, Johan (Cornelio Wall Fehr), a father of six children, cheats on his wife, Esther (Miriam Toews), by having a secret love affair with another woman, Marianne (Maria Pankratz), a waitress whom heís passionately in love with for two years. He confesses his affair to his good friend, Zacarias (Jacobo Klassen), and hopes that it wonít put his relationship to Esther in jeopardy. The Mennonite faith strictly prohibits infidelity, but Johan struggles to get a grip on his feelings toward Marianne. He also confides in his father (Peter Wall) while being sure to tell him not to reveal the affair to his mother (Elizabeth Fehr). Johan and Esther rarely communicate with one another within their own home and their chemistry has evidently waned throughout their many years of marriage. Unlike Revolutionary Road, this drama deals more with the unspoken thoughts and feelings between a husband and wife whose marriage has deteriorated. Writer/director Carlos Reygadas, who also wrote and directed Battle in Heaven and Japůn, opens the film with a beautiful, six-minute shot of a sunrise and closes the film with the shot of sunset. Those particular visually striking, symbolic images along with other ones, such as pouring rain and a broken clock , add very lyrical elements that speak volumes about what the characters go through which their laconic dialogue isnít able to achieve. For example, the sunrise presents the dawn of hope or passion in Johanís life as if he were reawakening to embrace a new love in his life like the sun rises to embraces a new day. Reygadas has crafted a simple, yet sensitive and pensive film thatís filled with subtleties and strong emotion. He doesnít rely on character or plot development except for a rather contrived twist toward the end; itís more about establishing a particular mood, though, through the framing of scenes, the scenery itself along with the body language of the characters. Impatient audience members will find it difficult to feel truly immersed into many scenes because of the very slow pace, but patient ones, who pay close attention to detail and donít mind the slow pace, will be rewarded by being able to feel the intense human emotions that lay hidden beneath the filmís much quiet, seemingly simple surface. At a running time of 136 minutes, Silent Light occasionally drags, but ultimately manages to be a challenging, intelligent, moving and hauntingly poetic film. Number of times I checked my watch: 2. Released by Palisades Tartan. Opens at the Film Forum.