“POST TENEBRAS LUX” *****
Darkness: Thunderstorms and lightning bright up the dark night into the forest. A baby girl walks amidst the unknown wet ground, her murmuring are mixed to the barking of some dogs surrounding her, a silent tremble, the sounds of Creation, Nature, Human Existence and Animal Life. A haunting yet profoundly fragile moment of fear and wonder. The interior of a house, which inhabits the family of the asleep girl, while a mystic evil figure stalks and observes them, and disappears away carrying a sort of mysterious suitcase.
Lightness: Morning rises, the couple are woken up by their children, sharing care and familiar joy, a precious demonstration of the simple good things of the living journey, laughs and harmony.
Once again, in his seventh directorial effort, Mexican auteur Carlos Reygadas, invites the audience to a metaphorical trip of senses into meditative subjects that cross the screen through the natural landscapes he shots with amazing and incredible authenticity and sensibility. The atmosphere here is divided of an enlightening beauty and a suffocating circle of events that travel through time to tell the story of a family dealing with the elements of living, tradition, ethical and decency practice, values and manners, and modernity.
Throughout the narrative, written by himself, Reygadas balances stunning measures of good and evil, seen on the characters perspectives of meaning of life. Nature, of course, becomes the most important piece of the story, from who people, and also animals, are moved by, or pushed by their instincts, reflected on the shape of the landscape.
Right after getting up from a stormy night, the father engages himself in a strange act of brutality. It’s a surprisingly violent moment, and that’s just the beginning of many unexpected events that will occur. Reygadas keeps the audience, in a state of shock and awe, through a meditation on Human Nature, to discuss social issues, developing a poignant reflection on the modern tendencies, fear, vices, desire, death, beliefs and the consequences faced by each one’s choice.
The confessions exchanged by two men, one relates to his impulses towards sex, loss of control and technology, the other mourning his failure and loneliness are heartbreaking and eye opening.
The use of natural light and the splendorous double lenses he used to create a stylish distortion is remarkable. Each sequence, the wedding, the orgy in the sauna, the kids playing around, and a robbery, evokes moments of devastating meditation on how to face life. Although there are two elements, which I personally dislike, the use of semi-pornography and the image of the devil, Reygadas seems to be following the aesthetics of the current Auteur Cinema, anyhow, he has made a provocative and definitive masterpiece.