SILENT LIGHT (Carlos Reygadas). 127 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (July 11). For venues and time, see Movies. Rating: NNN
Film geeks will pee with glee over Silent Light. You can catalogue all the cinematic tricks and you’ll think you’re really smart.
A Jury Prize winner at the 2007 Cannes festival, the film tells the story of a Mennonite farmer and father of seven (Cornelio Wall) who’s racked with guilt by the affair he’s having with another woman in his community. That’s it.
But the real story is director Carlos Reygadas’s technique. The film contains maybe five pages of dialogue and is an awesome exercise in rigour. It opens with a staggering six-minute shot of the sun rising and then deploys Dogme-like elements designed to keep you focused.
The soundtrack consists only of relevant elements, events happen in real time – grace before the meal takes up a full minute, a kiss lasts even longer – and it feels like every scene, gorgeous as it usually is, has been shot with only one camera.
The result is impressive but weirdly disorienting. It takes a while to figure out that the film is set in a Mexico, where Mennonites speak Low German and wear cowboy hats. And though the cinematic strategy does succeed in keeping you focused, it may not keep you engaged.
If you’re like me, you’ll feel like you’re involved in an almost postmodern activity of watching yourself watch a movie.