Juan (Adolfo Jimenez Castro) is a wealthy industrialist who has chosen to live with his wife and two children away from the city. Yet isolation in this superficially idyllic rural landscape seems to have brought little peace to his world. Juan's marriage to Natalia (Nathalia Acevedo) is suffering under the strain of sexual ennui, the banal rigors of bringing up young children and living in a community where he is clearly an outsider. When a shocking event threatens Juan's life he finds himself re-evaluating all that is important to him through a series of striking visions from his past, present and possible futures.
Rut Reygadas, Mitsy Ferrand, Joakim Chardonnens, Ander Vérez, Willebaldo Torres, Nathalia Acevedo, Adolfo Jiménez Castro, Eleazar Reygadas, José Alberto Sánchez, Daniel Colorado, José Luis Martínez, Alejandro Ramírez Molina, Félix Robles, Adriana Marquina, Reyes Rivera, Graciano Meijia, José Francisco Blake, Francisco Ramírez, Alex Atkinson, Manuel Barrio
The human tragedy beautifully filmed
- Post Tenebras Lux review by PR
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You rated this film: 4
Excellent film, and not for any of the obvious reasons: it has no plot to speak of, the characters are neither tragic nor heroic, the situations are commonplace. Yet its very "normality" is what makes the film disturbing, because it clearly shows what drama and strangeness even the most (ostensibly) normal of lives entail - the surreal interludes are almost unnecessary.
This is a very sad film because of what it says about the human condition. In spite of their desire to "be good", every character is caught in a web of pathos and evil either brought about by the need to survive, sheer existential dissatisfaction, or simply because of man's inherent dark side. Which explains, I imagine, the presence of the Devil in the film.
It is not easy for non-Mexicans to appreciate this, but the portrayal of everyday life in all echelons of Mexican society is outstanding; you would be hard-pressed to distinguish individual scenes from real life documentaries , and this alone sets it apart from most films I have seen. And, thankfully, the film avoids the cheap clichés about "class struggle", the "exploited" etc. etc. Everyone suffers, in their own way.
As a bonus, British audiences get a chance to be awed by Mexico's landscapes and wild nature (the storm scenes, for instance, are not exaggerated for effect; they really are like that!)
With a visually beautiful opening sequence in which a small child (interestingly the real-life daughter of screenwriter/director Carlos Raygadas) speaks to a group of animals: dogs, horses, cows and the like, in the falling twilight as ominous storm clouds gather and thunder and lightening shake the distant horizon Post Tenebrous Lux is a filmic exploration of the contrasting darkness and light of life.
The Latin title, which translated roughly means “After darkness comes light”, is a direct reference to the psychological contradictions that await the viewer for the following 115 minutes.
Partly autobiographical the film is less the story of and more an exploration of the lives of Juan and his family, consisting of a wife and two children (played through most of the film by Raygadas’ own son and daughter Eleazar and Rut); financially well off Juan moves his family to a remote, but beautiful, part of the Mexican countryside where they at first seem quite happy. What ensues however is a portrayal of the years that follow, culminating with Juan’s death; each scene however is coloured by those that precede it, like a paintbrush dipped in several pots as the film progresses Raygadas’ strokes become a darker melee of emotional and psychological colours.
With a run time that includes dream sequences, suicide, an orgy and drug taking the film manages to create a portrait of a man disturbed and obsessed, who strikes fear in his children and is unable to control his sexual desires. And yet there is still something beautifully evocative about the piece; like any great painting, it leaves you pondering the depths, darkness and redemptive abilities of human kind; the out of place yet wonderfully complementary images of a rugby game jarring themselves against the magical but ever changing sight of nature, all coming to a gentle but decisive ending in which Juan finally accepts and repents.