August 21, 2009 / Filmwell
On celebrations and empty chairs at the table in three films: Still Walking, Summer Hours, and Rachel Getting Married.
July 10, 2009
Roy Anker has reviewed Reygadas’ Silent Light for Books and Culture.
It features some nice descriptions of Reygadas’ overall effect:
To see the world this way, as if through a pair of Vermeer-tinged eyeglasses, is, frankly, startling. Perhaps this is Reygadas’ foremost gift: his “eye,” his luminous apprehension of the physical world. Whether it be the stolid, intractable fleshliness of humanity in Battle in Heaven, or here, among the Mennonites in Mexico, the palpable radiance of the sun on the high plains of Chihuahua and of the plain people in the plain, white interiors of their simple farmhouses, Reygadas imbues the full amplitude of being with just enough “whatever” to inspire awe—what he calls “contemplation.” And he does this without recourse to the cheesy devices that Hollywood uses to signal the portentous.
As well as some more specific scrutiny of its conclusion:
Reygadas seems fully aware of what he’s after, confessing in an interview, “In reality, I do not believe in miracles, but I think reality is a miracle.” So when the “wow” of the conclusion does come round, it seems a logical extension of the irreducible glory already contained in every sort of thing. Near the end, Marianne tells Johan that “peace is stronger than love,” at least of the romantic sort, and it is the fullness of peace, wrought by agapic love, that in the end accomplishes all. Indeed, that old Mennonite banner of peace seems to win the day, celebrating the quiet, grateful heart over the psycho-blitzes of passion and romance. In all of this, loss is perhaps the severest teacher. Reygadas cops his ending from a famous film by a famous Danish filmmaker, though he says his point is different. And so it is.
Excellent thoughts, though I wish he would have dabbled a bit more in the range of fairly overt biblical references made throughout the film to creation, eden, the flood, etc…