Will Occupy Your Skull Like a Siege of Huns

Mexican barn burner Carlos Reygadas's second feature is a portentous, magnificent movie and a half, teeming with insidious visual ideas and a fearless moral equilibrium. Already notorious for hardcore-osity, it's so serious about its formal intelligence and so deep-dish in its evocations of inexpressible desolation, personal and social, that it occupies your skull like a siege of Huns. It launches with a discomfiting blowjob and creeps—almost without your knowing it—into the sickened moral universe of a middle-aged, potbellied Mexico City driver (non-pro Marcos Hernández), for whom the life unseen off-screen has gone terribly wrong. Reygadas backlights this with a tango of unstable perspectives: Time and again, a single shot begins as a character's point of view and then invisibly evolves into something else entirely. The boiling magma of the movie remains withheld, but its breathtaking tension builds from our dawning awareness, as well as from the catatonic opera of sex-escape and cultural-redemption hunger whipped up around Marcos's dilemma. The supplements include an interview with Reygadas and gamine-star Anapola Mushkadiz, and selected scenes from Reygadas's first film, the nearly-as-discombobulating Japón (2002).

 
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