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We Are All One in Babel-Meets-Benetton-Ad Altiplano

High in the Peruvian Andes, young Saturnina (The Milk of Sorrow's Magaly Solier) loses her fiancé to the toxic mercury spill that has left her village sick and blind. Meanwhile, war photographer Grace (Jasmin Tabatabai) has hung up her career after being forced at knifepoint to take a picture of her Iraqi guide's execution. The two women are linked by Grace's Belgian hubby, Max (Dardenne regular Olivier Gourmet), a cataract surgeon working near Saturnina's town. Altiplano falls in the genre of films that tell, with heavy-handed overreach and humorless platitudes, ambitious stories of how invisibly, fatalistically connected we are in this tiny global village of ours—here's looking at you, Babel and Mammoth. Compared to those two, there's thankfully less bathos in the puffed-up reflections of injustice and spirituality that define Altiplano, though co-collaborators Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth (directors of the Mongolian-set Khadak) still cheapen their ethnological lyricism by over-stylizing the venture as if it were a Benetton ad by Alejandro Jodorowsky–lite. A statue of the Virgin Mary shatters, portraits of the deceased float down an inky river, and a tragedy is accompanied by walls falling down in slow-motion, the victim left on a bed in the middle of the remote plains.

 
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