Direction: Carlos Reygadas
Country: Mexico / other
The films of Mexican Carlos Reygadas are structured with enough existentialism and spiritual vision to present challenges to the viewer. I’m remembering how much Japón (2002), Post Tenebras Lux (2012), and especially Silent Light (2007), generated discussion, marking the international cinema with enduring long shots prone to emotionally intriguing reflection.
The director’s new work, Our Time, is a nearly 3-hour examination of a complex, undermined open marriage between Juan (played by Reygadas himself), an arrogant cattle rancher and poet, and Ester (Natalia Lopez, Reygadas’ real-life spouse), a free-spirited mother of three who is fed up with her obligation to report her secret encounters with Phil (Phil Burgers), an American horse trainer temporarily hired to work at the ranch, to her scrupulous husband. With the passage of time, the tension grows exponentially and mistrust envelops the couple's doomed relationship. The story is partially narrated by a kid’s voice and includes letter and e-mail readings as well as phone call conversations.
Squeezed in the middle of these lives marked by obsession, voyeurism, carnal desire, and ego, we have furious bull fights, which work as a metaphor for leadership and possession in the marital alliance but also as an exteriorization of all the tension accumulated throughout. Under a deceptively polished surface, there’s a lot of emotional fractures, whose delineation, despite valid, won’t appeal to everyone’s tastes.
Reygadas stumbles in this quiet yet powerfully acted tale of love, loyalty, and exasperation, where one pokes around vainly in search of something more than just the facts.
In Juan’s words: ‘love is resilient and imperfect’ and, in some way, that’s what a much less ambiguous Reygadas intends to substantiate here. However, he couldn’t handle this bull by the horns, stretching the time into an absurd extent in order to tell a story that never showed plenitude of heart.