Batalla en el cielo (Mexico - 2005) Battle in Heaven
Directed by Carlos Reygadas
Starring Marcos Hernndez, Anapola Mushkadiz
Its hard writing any sort of cohesive comments about a film as incohesive and inconsistent as this one so I'll try and keep it brief although I've written a lot of jumbled up notes that may come into use for points of debate at some later date.
The opening scene has been discussed many times but still caught me out, the girl looks no older than about 14, quite disturbing. The tears from the girl, Ana are repeated by another character much later in the film.
There is good original use made of sound and vision, in one scene the two are intermingled, you hear what you see through a 360% turn and all other audio is cut out, very strange but very effective. A lot of the film is taken up with long slow pans from left to right and back again, taking in the normality and also the odd and at times slightly disturbing populace of the city.
There are quite a few interesting shots of Mexico City from strange angles, also a lot of panning shots of blank banal concrete buildings. The views outside of the city especially from the peak of a mist-covered hill were hauntingly beautiful.
Religion plays an important part in the film and is ever present, climaxing in Marcos's attempt to find repentance amidst a vast array of pilgrims gathered for a religious festival. There are also several clichs including Marcoss confession, although he considers Ana as almost a friend and later a lover, in a conventional turn Ana the prostitute is used for confessional reasons in much the same way as a priest.
Now down to the major issues.
The plot, an Army Generals chauffeur and his wife have kidnapped a baby, fair enough you might think, everyone knows theres a huge problem with kidnapping in several Latin American countries, but! Why on earth would anyone kidnap the baby of someone who is obviously worse off in almost every way than the kidnappers are, and who would kidnap the baby of a friend? Without this there is no film so I suppose we as the viewers have to accept that for whatever reason, it happened.
We dont see the kidnapping or the child, we only find out about it a little into the film when Carloss wife rings and tells him that the baby has died, this starts the chain of events rolling.
The acting (or lack of it) Ana was fine but Marcos and his wife, well let's just say Marcos is undoubtedly a good chauffeur, he just seemed totally blank and unbelievable when dealing with anything else, his wife was just very large, petty minded and downright scary. In fact as far as the kidnapping is concerned. I felt that the wife should have been the one filled with remorse and seeking redemption not Marcos, he seemed to be a puppet being continuously told what to do.
Sex. Yes the first scene is unsettling, but there are other moments, the animalistic humping between Marcos and his wife, like two great sweaty lumps of meat crashing together. Then there's Marcos (thankfully shown only from chest height) masturbating during a football match and repeating what the interviewed player has said? Another scene shows Marcos and Ana having sex, whats funny about this scene is even though the act is simulated, its quite obvious that Marcos has genuinely become aroused, the camera lingers on their bodies and genitalia as they lay on the bed side by side. The final scene of oral sex is obviously tied in with the initial scene.
As an experiment, it's interesting and certainly sticks in your mind but as a story that depends on a plot, it's pretty weak and nonsensical.
Would I see it again, well I've certainly been pondering that question myself and the answer is probably yes but I know (as with the majority of films) it caertainly won't have the same impact on the small screen.
Would I recommend it? To the average movie-goer, no chance but to the members of this site, absolutely. In fact I hope a few of you do as I'm sure it'll spark some discussion.
Again I apologise that these comments are a bit muddled but this is not an average film and is probably the most awkward I've tried to comment on.
BBFC rated 18
A dvd will be released sometime in the future by Tartan video.