The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Post Tenebras Lux | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Post Tenebras Lux

A middle class couple struggle to adapt to life in rural Mexico.

Directed by: Carlos Reygadas
Starring: Adolfo Jiménez Castro, Nathalia Acevedo, Willebaldo Torres

Juan (Castro) and Nathalia (Acevedo) are a middle class Mexican couple who have recently moved, with their two infant children, to a remote part of the country. Their attempts to become accepted into the community seem thwarted, some of the locals not considering them "genuine Mexicans". With their relationship becoming fractured, they visit a swingers' sauna in Belgium. A local man, known as 'Seven' (Torres), a former drug addict, does some work on their house but ultimately betrays Juan's trust. We also see footage of a rugby match at an English public school, which may be a flashback to Juan's education.
Reygadas' latest film, for which he received the Best Director Award at last year's Cannes Film Festival, is an odd beast. There's a relatively straight narrative here concerning the disintegration of a relationship but it's interspersed awkwardly with moments of magic realism which wouldn't be out of place in the work of Reygadas' compatriot, Guillermo Del Toro. The two don't complement each other in the slightest. When the director is presenting us with dream-like sequences, the film is somewhat engaging but the relationship drama is tiresome and cliched. The movie's finest moment comes courtesy of a scene where Juan's infant son dreams of Seven as a cartoon devil, influenced by his viewing of 'Pink Panther' cartoons. It's a stunning representation of how children see the world but when you've had a scene like this it's hard to settle back into a soap-opera family drama. The worst moment features Nathalie performing a horrifically sung piano rendition of a Neil Young song. It's clearly meant to be a cathartic moment but, like the horrid sing-along of P.T Anderson's 'Magnolia', it's a moment the film simply hasn't earned.
Reygadas does his best to shock his audience. We see a dog having it's head violently bashed in, an orgy scene that makes 'Eyes Wide Shut' look like a Disney movie and, hilariously, a self-decapitation (yes, a self-decapitation). Someone should tell the director it's 2013; we live in a post-shock world. With real-life atrocities and porn to suit every fetish just a Google search away, why do film-makers still think they can provoke a reaction from audiences in such a juvenile manner?