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Critics reviews
Post Tenebras Lux
Carlos Reygadas Mexico, 2012
The film is smart enough to avoid suggesting that Juan is simplistically redeemed by his familial devotion or, on the contrary, that his sins taint his human potential; instead, Reygadas sidesteps the level of judgment entirely by evading the shackles of A-B narrative structure and inhabiting the schizophrenic consciousness of his lead character.
June 29, 2013
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The first thirty minutes of the film are completely stunning: visually gorgeous, disturbing, moving, intriguing… But then something happens—an ambivalence, perhaps, on the part of the director about the message at the core of his fable—and the film morphs into something looser, lighter and less focused.
May 24, 2013
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Though he has returned to the same preoccupations… time and again, sometimes with a singular obsession that grows tiresome, Reygadas here continually startles and delights. There’s an intuitive quality to the filmmaking: perspectives shift and move invisibly and fluidly, and time seems not a concern at all. Reygadas grounds his formal play in recognizable roman à clef elements, so that even when [the film] is at its most obtuse, it isn’t long before a pocket of relative lucidity arrives.
May 03, 2013
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In Post Tenebras Lux… the family drama provides a crucial ballast for a film that swirls with impressionistic touches; it helps Reygadas hold his strange discordant notes mostly in balance. Mostly, but not entirely: It’s as if Reygadas started with a sprawling cache of visual ideas and then tried to find some way to organize them all. The effect can be frustrating at times, but also surprising and beguiling.
May 02, 2013
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Gradually the film takes on themes of creativity and violence, and what both things do to a family. Magnificent landscapes are filmed through a lens that blurs the edges — like the bottom of a bottle, alcohol being one of many motifs. For those willing to lock into Reygadas’ mad wavelength, the beauty is worth the puzzlement.
May 02, 2013
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Post Tenebras Lux" is less combative [than his earlier films], even with an abrasive sound mix, that often turns up natural noises (rain, boots on concrete, mooing) up to 11, and images that sometimes boast distortion around the edges. A second viewing takes it from free associational to fairly contained. It’s the kind of art film that seems mysterious until a closer reading makes it feel smaller.
May 01, 2013
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A mesmerizing combination of opaque art-house cinema, personal reflection and class-based rural thriller, Mexican director Carlos Reygadas’ “Post Tenebras Lux” casts a strange and powerful spell… It’s as if we were sometimes in the world of David Lynch, sometimes in the world of Stanley Kubrick and a whole lot of the time in the world of Andrei Tarkovsky, with the complicated social tragedy of Mexico ladled on top.
May 01, 2013
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If I advise fewer people to see Reygadas’s new film, Post Tenebras Lux [than Silent Light], it’s not only because I liked it less than Silent Light—but also because it is so much harder to explain what exactly I am proposing that they watch… In Post Tenebras Lux, if we are hoping for the coherent narrative that drew us through Silent Light, we must instead settle for a montage of scenes that appear to have been assembled in an order understood best—and perhaps only—by the director.
May 01, 2013
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Like recent films Upstream Color and Spring Breakers, Post Tenebras Lux embraces a psychedelic vibe that prizes sensual experience over conventional narrative, a trip that isn’t always pleasant: Satan makes two cameos, and I don’t think they’re intended as jokes. Post Tenebras Lux doesn’t achieve the stunning visuals of the opening scene of Reygadas’s Silent Light (one of the past decade’s masterpieces), but it remains a worthy follow-up.
May 01, 2013
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Life and death, nature and culture, sex and money, man and beast, God and the Devil — “Post Tenebras Lux” embraces the world even if it doesn’t open itself up to ready interpretation… Everything in the film may be in the past or may just be in the eternal, magnificent, maddening present that is Mr. Reygadas’s consciousness.
April 30, 2013
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Reygadas is no stranger to politically charged moviemaking (the climax here is an astonishingly unnerving and confrontational coup de cinema). What matters more is recognizing Post Tenebras Lux’s kinship with a strain of impressionistic autobiographical cinema practiced by filmmakers such as Andrei Tarkovsky (The Mirror) and Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life) in which every sound and image seems to spring straight from the psyche.
April 30, 2013
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Reygadas’s taste in mentors is exemplary. If Carl Dreyer’s Ordet (1955) was the unacknowledged inspiration behind Silent Light, Bresson’s The Devil, Probably (1977) seems to have been on Reygadas’s mind here, as a later scene of trees falling in a forest also suggests. To boot, Bresson’s narrative also splits its focus between the suicidal trajectory of its main character and the indictment of a world bent on destroying its natural resources while offering pathetic cultural compensations.
April 29, 2013
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…It begins with the director’s young daughter toddling through a soggy field somewhere in rural Mexico naming what Stan Brakhage, whose films provide a precedent for this focus-deranged footage, might call the Animals of Eden: “Vacas! Caballos!” Rumble of distant thunder. Flash of lightning heralds the title (which can be translated from the Latin as “Light After Darkness”). It’s a splendid curtain raiser for an intermittently brilliant, but more often baffling and ultimately insipid film.
April 29, 2013
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Flipping between alternate versions of reality, the director evokes catastrophic uncertainty as man’s grim fate. The premise is realized with a sludgy, bombastic portentousness; the images, for all their strained rhapsody, show little, and merely recite a thesis.
April 29, 2013
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Post Tenebras Lux, an almost impossibly intellectual film, keeps us at a remove that’s as striking as that which separates Juan from the lower classes. Not all of the visual and philosophical ideas about race, sex, class, and spirituality that Reygadas juggles are as instinctive as others.
April 27, 2013
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The man and the woman in the couple (whose children are played by Reygadas’s actual children, and whose house is his own) may face moments of illumination, but the pungency of the director’s imagery and the assurance of his mysterious mission do not dispel the feeling of being left somewhat in the dark.
April 24, 2013
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Reygadas envisions this purgatory magnificently, trumping his own more laborious efforts in Japón (2002) and Silent Light (2007) and leaving memories of the misbegotten Battle in Heaven (2005) far behind. To match the sheer sensory impact of the ambiguous tone and imagery in Post Tenebras Lux you’d have to look back to its distant ancestor, a film Reygadas has surely never heard of: David Larcher’s psychedelic odyssey Mare’s Tail, a forgotten classic of British indie cinema…
March 22, 2013
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The film begins with stampeding animals and ends with equally aggro young men running on the same field, the human and animal worlds interchangeable. There’s more than a little grandstanding bunk in its details, but Reygadas’ anti-humanist tract successfully fleshes out its sketchily harsh cosmology.
March 21, 2013
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Entrancingly beautiful and calculated to confound, Carlos Reygadas’s first feature since Silent Light (07), is as beguiling a cinematic object as one is likely to encounter this year. Met with boos following its premiere at Cannes last year (although it went on to win the Best Director prize), Post Tenebras Luxrepresents Reygadas’s attempt to make a personal work in which autobiographical content is lyrically transfigured and elevated to cosmic heights.
March 01, 2013
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The film is as daring an experiment in narrative structure as Reygadas’s Battle in Heaven. Every new sequence feels like the beginning of a new movie, as though the filmmaker is erasing the slate each time he moves to a new location.
October 25, 2012
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It takes a rigorous close read to dispel [one’s] concerns—as well as, maybe more importantly, a willingness to defer to Reygadas and accept a certain central abstraction. Doing so reveals a film both rich and strange: It’s haunting, abstract, monolithic, but half-there. It’s a film that yawns and aches. One strains to even describe it
September 15, 2012
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Post Tenebras Lux is a rather conservative film about the need to defend the family against all potential threats, foreign and domestic. (Even the seemingly random conclusion, with a rugby team, gives us the final line, " We’re going to win, because they’re a bunch of individuals, and we’re a team.") So I am very sincere on all counts when I declare this film to be Reygadas’s Eyes Wide Shut.
September 11, 2012
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Reygadas is very clever at stuff like this, coming up with a vast, assertive composition and then letting unpredictable elements like children, animals and weather play their part in it. But that’s not enough: He has to further make his hand felt by smearing the corners of the image (already boxy from having been shot in the Academy ratio) with what looks like refracting vaseline, so that you view scenes as if through the blurry iris of the bottom of a bottle.
September 10, 2012
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The sequence goes long—15 minutes or more—too long, maybe, but too long in a way that’s exactly right. If Reygadas set out to make an intuitive, pre-cognitive film, then this mysterious, intangible but profoundly resonant prologue comes closest to realizing that dream.
July 01, 2012
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The opening sequence, in which a young girl frolics with farm animals as a storm approaches, is mesmerizing on a formal level—a hypnotic combination of focal tricks, grounding-level shooting and the sounds of approaching thunder… But the class tract that makes up much of the movie is so disconnected that, as a colleague remarked, it could have been re-edited in any order.
May 27, 2012
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This is, in many ways, an astounding work and a dizzying feat of creativity, imagination and personal vision. Yet Reygadas has set the bar too high for himself and, in this case, has chosen to take his audience spelunking into the surreal depths of his own navel.
May 24, 2012
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What Reygadas has emerged with is, to these eyes at least, the most visionary film of the festival. Along with Holy Motors, this is easily the most original, audacious film to screen here… This is Reygadas’ most personal work by some distance, and that goes a long way toward imbuing the film with an uncomfortable, intimate feel, despite exuding a breadth of tone and a rush of lushly captured images that yearn with nostalgic warmth.
May 24, 2012
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With Post tenebras lux, Reygadas, the talented Mexican director behind Japon, Battle in Heaven, and the brilliant Silent Light, expands the anarchic sense of time and space he first explored in his loony short for Revolucion into an entire film. Nothing adds up in this mostly maddening cinematic experience, but everything feels connected by the same ethereal view of environment, in the way characters languish, and in the nuances of a shifting world half-remembered.
May 24, 2012
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A lot of the film is just pokey and uninvolving, as we never get a sense of who any of these people are, yet bear witness to plenty of their banal interactions. Whenever Reygadas throws in a coup de cinéma—and I’m defining that broadly, to include e.g. a lovely moment in which a woman serenades her ill husband with Neil Young’s “It’s a Dream” on the piano—he confirms his mastery in spades. But there are just too few of them here, and they add up too little.
May 24, 2012
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You’re either willing to meet the movie on its level or you’re not, but if you can tune in to Reygadas’s frequency, the result is spellbinding: a lyrical, lysergic look on various states of coming together and falling apart that’s both upsetting and oddly soothing.
May 24, 2012
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