Post Tenebras Lux, Mexican director Carlos Reygadas' fourth feature-length film, has earned several comparisons to Terrence Malick's recent work. It also earned him the Best Director award at Cannes. The Wisconsin Film Festival screened the movie at the UW Cinematheque this afternoon.
Reygadas' long takes of trees and grass swaying and his contemplative shots of water rippling as children splash and play are of hallmarks Malick's as well. But where Malick keeps his avant-garde narratives separate from his lovely nature images, Reygadas mixes fuzzy chronology with abrupt scenes of violence and weirdness.
What narrative there is follows violent man-child and elitist architect Juan (Adolfo Jiménez Castro) as he moves his family to a remote mountain campo and clashes with the impoverished locals. Dog abuse, rugby matches and French sex spas follow, often in out-there ways. (If you attend Sunday's screening, be prepared to see scores of flaccid penises.) It's a shame because the realistic, passive-aggressive fights between the leads hit close to home in heart-wrenching ways.
The film's also visually beautiful, and if Reygadas had shown the same amount of focus as he did in 2007's Silent Light, his previous feature, it'd be considered a masterpiece.