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Reviews for May 1st, 2013

Post Tenebras Lux

Directed by Carlos Reygadas

      Juan (Adolfo Jiménez Castro), his wife, Natalia (Nathalia Acevedo) and two young kids, Rut (Rut Reygadas) and Eleazar (Eleazar Reygadas), move from the city to a home in the Mexican countryside. Their maintenance man, Seven (Willebaldo Torres), occasionally shows up to fix up their house. Seven and Juan come from different classes---Juan is the wealthier one---yet both of them are very flawed human beings who have serious struggles to deal with. Seven has battled drug addiction and abused his wife and kids before becoming estranged from them. Juan admittedly suffers from addiction to porn, and in one particularly shocking scene, he expresses his anger by beating up a dog.

      After the brilliant Silent Light, writer/director Carlos Reygadas has once again woven an emotionally and intellectually demanding elliptical narrative filled with symbolism and beautiful imagery. Every scene serves a purpose, but you might find yourself perplexed as to what that purpose is more often than not. For instance, the opening scene has young girl walking through a meadow during a thunderstorm while naming animals that she sees around her. It's a beautiful yet concurrently frightening. A bright red silhouette of the devil carrying a toolbox shows up briefly. Juan and Natalia go to a sex spa where Natalia gets more attention than Juan does. A lengthy scene involves Seven cutting down trees. What does all of this mean within the context of the film? What is Reygadas trying to say? Like many great, intelligent filmmakers, he leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Perhaps he's commenting on the volatile, sinful, perverse nature of mankind and how we've fallen from grace.

      However, don't expect Post Tenebras Lux to be easy to sit through. Many scenes move with a sluggish pace and go on for too long which leads to feels of exhaustion and tedium. There are virtually no moments of comic relief unless you consider the sight of the devil's penis to be comical---it's much more absurd and bizarre than funny.

Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Strand Releasing.
Opens at the Film Forum.

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