Dublin Film Festival Picks
All life is here in The Road
All life is here in The Road
Directed by Michel Franco. Starring Tessa Ía González Norvind, Tamara Yazbek, Gonzalo Vega Jr. Cineworld 8, 4pm; also Saturday, Light House 3, 4.20pm
A recently widowed father (Hernán Mendoza) and his vulnerable teenage daughter (Tessa Ía González Norvind) relocate to Mexico City where the latter is relentlessly bullied and cajoled. Unsurprisingly, both parties sink further and further into depression. Michel Franco’s drama visits every kind of horror of its heroine’s head but lacks anything as mediating as the allegory or commentary of a Lars von Trier picture. The use of close-medium still tableaux is fittingly claustrophobic but it does become rather monotonous. Stillness is all well and good in an Antonioni medium-long shot or a John Ford landscape; stillness up medium close looks too much like telly. The murky lighting choices are equally questionable.
Tessa Ía González Norvind is fabulously flattened in the lead and the denouement is a kicker. Still, unlike, say, the troubled teens that populate Klip, After Lucia’s heroine is maddeningly passive. Her many misfortunes and her failure to act occasionally tip the film into prurience. -
Post Tenebras Lux
Directed by Carlos Reygadas. Starring Adolfo Jiménez Castro, Nathalia Acevedo. Cineworld 9, 3.45pm. Also screening Sunday, Light House 1, 2.50pm
The latest film from Carlos Reygadas demands to be seen. That is to say it calls round to your house, bashes violently on the door and threatens to punch you in the face if you don’t come to see it. That’s how sinister and weird it is.
Following on from the contemplative Silent Light and the disturbing Battle in Heaven, the Mexican experimentalist leaps over the edge with this tale of . . . well, what? It’s easier to list some of the things that happen in Post Tenebras Lux – the title translates as Light After Darkness – than it is to summarise any sort of plot. A child encounters animals as she wanders through a field. A computer-generated devil stalks a house in the mountains. Various swingers have grubby sex in a sweaty sauna.
Weirdest of all – in that it’s so mundane – a group of English public-school boys scrum down for a game of rugby. The strangeness is heightened by the director’s decision to film it all through a thick, bevelled lens that causes permanent blurring at the edge of the frame. The near-equal blend of tedium and surreal menace ultimately hammers the psyche into submission. You need to see it once. You probably don’t need to see it again. -
The Road: A Story of Life and Death
Directed by Marc Isaacs Featuring Keelta O’Higgins, Peggy Roth, Billy Leahy. Light House 2, 6.20pm
The great documentarian Errol Morris casts a significant shadow across this year’s JDIFF programme. It’s impossible to watch Amy Berg’s superb West of Memphis without thinking of Morris’s The Thin Blue Line or to sit through The Gatekeepers without noting the influence of The Fog of War.
Similarly, the eclectic cast of characters chronicled by The Road immediately call to mind the loveable cranks that once populated Morris’s Gates of Heaven or Fast, Cheap and Out of Control.
The latest documentary from British filmmaker Marc Isaacs – a director who has enlivened BBC schedules for many years – does not suffer from the comparison.
The titular byway is the A5, a route that dates back to Roman occupation and covers almost 500km between London’s Marble Arch and Holyhead. The film opens with a young Irish woman – singer Keelta O’Higgins – heading for the bright lights of the English capital.
This, however, is not an Irish history but a multicultural tour that takes in everything from early Christian persecution to a Sunni religious festival. Over here, a Burmese Buddhist novice monk; over there, a Viennese Holocaust survivor. Even two funeral scenes can’t dampen the sense that all life is here. -