Silent Light (2007)

It’s a bit of a leap from Borzage to Carlos Reygadas, both in terms of time, space and approach, but I suppose you could argue that there are similar concerns of love and transcendence operating. In truth, though, I’m three films into my acquaintance with Reygadas and I’m no nearer to an appreciation than I was when I first finished watching Japon about five years ago (and Battle in Heaven just left me scratching my head further when I caught that later). I suspect that, if nothing else, this film would’ve looked amazing on the big screen cos it’s impressive enough on DVD; it’s consistently beautiful to watch and it’s filmed in an evidently amazing location. Just a shame that, in this country at least, none of his films seem to have gone beyond the festival circuit (and I don’t really do the Sydney Film Festival for various reasons), cos it’d be nice to see this on the big screen. Good grief, though, could it be any slower? It’s fine and well saying you have to “enter the Zone”, but what about when the slowness serves no apparent purpose (as I felt was the case here)? Discourse on Reygadas usually invokes the likes of Bresson, Tarkovsky, Dreyer, European arthouse masters of that sort (and that era), and often Reygadas invokes them himself; somewhere he even calls Silent Light the “little brother” of Ordet. That’s the company he obviously wants others to see him, and I vaguely admire his nerve, but I’m not sure the comparison isn’t ultimately specious; I get the feeling the chief lesson Reygadas learned from his idols is that the only way to present spirituality on film—if not the only possible path to art with film—was through austerity and grinding, grinding slowness, as if those things were an end in themselves. Maybe I just don’t respond to the various crises his films thus far have presented. Whatever. I hoped this might make me reconsider Reygadas—and I’ll concede it probably does represent some sort of advance on the first two films—but I don’t think it did; still, unlike the first two films, at least I had the sense to borrow this to watch it rather than buy it…

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