Sunday, August 23, 2020


Nuestro Tiempo (2018) - Reygardas
My initial thoughts were right about Carlos Reygadas it turns out. I don't like to disregard a movie as pretentious. It implies that I didn't understand the film and am attempting to disparage it. But even from the beginning, starting with Japon, his first film, with all the critics going gaga over it, I didn't buy it. I didn't buy his supposed talent, his vision and questioned his intentions behind his stunts. Behind every single one of his movie except maybe Silent Light. Why do we need to see graphic sex scenes performed by non-actors? Why do we need to see animal abuse? Why do we need any of these? With each of his film, the experience felt like nothing more than exploitation. Visceral provocation has its place in films. But with nothing more than making its not so subtle points, I thought these scenes were beyond excessive and uncalled for. Just because of the strength of Silent Light, his serene contemplation of faith by way of Dreyer which I liked very much, I've decided to give him another try.

It's a 3 hour domestric drama starring Reygadas himself, his actress wife and his children in his ranch in rural Mexico. The beginning thirty minutes, involving children and teenagers playing in mudflats shot in anamorphic lens flare glories, are stunningly beautiful, if not creepy - like gliding over their nubile bodies which made me very uncomfortable, doesn't factor into the rest of the film at all. Our Time is definitely not about their offsprings. It concerns an open marriage of Jose (Reygadas), a renowned poet and rancher of bulls and his beautiful wife Esther (Natalia López) and a gringo horse breaker named Phil (Phil Burgers). Jose suspects that Esther is having an affair with Phil who is moving from job to job wherever he's service is needed.

It is not quite clear if Jose arranged his unfulfilled wife's affair with Phil from the beginning. But numerous narrations suggest he has something to do with the arrangement. But it doesn't make him compulsively checking Esther's phone for chats and passive aggressively confronting Esther about her lying. Our Time could've gone to the route of one of those cliché blinding jealousy movies or about an obsession. What Reygadas is doing here or not doing here is far worse - Time after time we hear Jose and Esther's narration (both their thoughts and reciting their letters to each other) over beautiful images - most notably over the extended shot of Mexico City at night from a plane as it descends through the fog, but what they are totally unreliable since their thoughts and their actions are completely different.

There is no causality for any of Esther's actions. Is she a nympho? Why is Jose encouraging her to have sex with other men? If he is for open marriage for satisfying Esther and not jealous, why is he still peeping while Esther is having very graphic sex with other men?

None of these makes much sense. It's not vascillation for some kind of resolution at the end emotionally or physically, it's going on like that forever. But is it about communication breakdown between a husband and wife? They talk but they can't articulate themselves? They tussle, throw chairs and still nothing gets resolved.

I read some interviews with Reygadas where he defends the reason for using his family. It's bullshit. Out of convenience, really? Our Time is perhaps the most egregiously self-indulging movie I've ever seen. It's Scenes from a Marriage only on the most superficial level. Even though I give benefit of the doubt in their trying that they are sincere in representing their relationship, I find them and their petit bourgeois life in the rural Mexico so uninteresting and boring.

He also said that it's not about masculinity that only American audiences would think that. It features bull ranch, bulls making horrendous sounds day and night, a bull gores a mule to death and a bull fight ends in the death of a bull at the end of the film. How does one interpret that any other way? This is movie is bullshit. Reygadas is bullshit.

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