Japon Carlos Reygadas

Those who go to films for straight A, B, C narratives will have a hard time with this languid, contemplative film, which will strike some as the worst thing they've ever seen and others as an unqualified success. The minimal plot involves a nameless city dweller who ventures into the Mexican countryside for a suitable place to die. Before he can do the deed, he's more or less billeted with a religious Indian woman with whom he strikes up a friendship. There's a little intrigue at the end involving the woman's greedy nephew and a sexual angle you won't see coming, but it's the explorations of that countryside that count — they're at once striking and apparently beside the point, and will either astound you with their beauty or make you wonder when the plot is coming back. But though I was somewhat irritated by the frequent digressions, I had to admit they gave the story something it wouldn't have on its own. Contextualised by the vast stretches of rough terrain, the protagonists' exchanges become more piquant than they would as part of a self-contained saga, making them specks in a larger universe rather than its centre. This will not endear the film to anyone outside of the Rossellini/Bresson/Tarkovsky axis, and will make it tough slogging for others who try. Still, I'm better off having seen its richly saturated cinematography, contemplative tone and the roundhouse kick to the head of its final five-minute tracking shot. The only main extra is a 41-minute interview with director Carlos Reygadas, who proves to be quite the bright talker; he expounds on his cast, his methods, and his influences with flair and humour. (Tartan)