Our Time: Do we get to see the filmmaker have sex with his wife? You bet

Review: A lengthy, controversial couples therapy session by Mexican auteur Carlos Reygadas

Carlos Reygadas has refused to disclose how precisely autobiographical his new film’s scenario is, but all the indications are it’s very autobiographical

Film Title: Our Time

Director: Carlos Reygadas

Starring: Natalia López, Phil Burgers, Carlos Reygadas, Maria Hagerman

Genre: Drama

Running Time: 178 min

Fri, Jul 12, 2019, 05:00

   

 Carlos Reygadas, the Mexican auteur famed for such provocations as Battle in Heaven (2005) and Post Tenebras Lux (2012) returns with Our Time (Nuestro tiempo), a lengthy and controversial couples therapy session.

Juan, a famous poet styled after and played by the writer-director, lives on a ranch with Ester (played by Reygadas’s real life wife, Natalia López) and two children (yes, they are playing themselves).

They have previously discussed the possibility of an open marriage, a prospect they are, well, open to, until Ester has an actual affair with an American cowboy (Phil Burgers).

With crushing predictability, it turns out Reygadas isn’t the swinging, devil-may-care, airy horn advocate he thought. “You f**k Michelle, okay?” offers Ester unhelpfully. Her husband responds by stalking her on her date.

Indeed, for much of the film’s lengthy run time, he is following his wife around the house and asking all about the intimate details. “Leave me alone,” she cries more than once, as she attempts to get on with stuff. 

Reygadas has refused to disclose how precisely autobiographical his new film’s scenario is, but given the lengthy bits of voiceover, non-sequiturs and dull everyday details, we’re guessing very autobiographical. 

Fair enough. Everyone from Ingmar Bergman to Josef von Sternberg has mined their personal affairs to produce compelling drama. But few have been as shamelessly indulgent as Reygadas is here. Did we really need the wife’s pizza sauce recipe delivered in monotone over the phone? Onion in the blender and add turmeric, if you’re interested.

Do we get to see the filmmaker have sex with his wife? You bet. Do we hear him compare her maturing body to a fine wine? Sadly, yes.

Reygadas has previously explored marital infidelity in Silent Light, a beautiful, anguished drama set among Mexico’s Mennonite community. That film’s moral boundaries made for a far more interesting prospect than the shrugged-off affair at the centre of Our Time, even if only one party is doing the shrugging.

It wouldn’t be a Reygadas film if it didn’t leave the viewer feeling conflicted and creeped out. And the cinematography (by Adrian Durazo and Diego García) is gorgeous. Staying on brand, at least.