Film Review: Stellet Licht

Film Review: Stellet Licht

silentlight1.jpgI read a review of a movie some time ago. I finally found it and watched it last night. Stellet Licht (Silent Light), written and directed by Carlos Reygadas (2007). I had heard nothing about this writer and director until the review, but the film sounded intriguing enough to me that I wanted to give it a look. I like films from the margins, birthed from other places than Hollywood. So I sat myself down and prepared to watch a piece of cinematic art. It is a story of adultery set in a north Mexico Mennonite community, with dialog entirely in Plautdietsch, with some Spanish. On a the superficial level it is about a love triangle – Johan (Cornelio Wall Feher), husband to Esther (Miriam Toews) and father of six, is having an affair with Marianne (Maria Pankratz). He's totally open about the affair with his friends and family. But Johan suffers a spiritual crisis: is Marianne sent as a test from god, or is she a temptation sent by the devil? He also struggles over which woman to choose. Reygadas and the actors capture these very real tensions magnificently. The photography is fantastic. The opening scene is over six minutes long... time-lapse photography capturing the dawn of day in a powerful visual and aural display. There's no musical soundtrack at all, although there is one radio song playing in the background in one scene and the community singing a hymn in another. The film is sparse and minimalist, which I appreciate. It's almost like all our attention is liberated to explore the spiritual dimension of the film with the solid foundation of geography, landscape, flesh and blood people and their relationships firmly beneath us. Where most films presented to us today are visual and aural shock and awe, this one was a pleasant deviation. I must admit that at first I was tempted to turn it off because it was so sparse, so bare, with camera shots lasting far longer than I am used to. But I hung in there because I was intrigued by the very grounded, visceral and honest approach of the film. I was also incredibly surprised a few times. I mean, one moment in the film was probably the most surprising scenes I've ever watched. I can't give anything away. But I came to the conclusion that it is one of the most important and impressive films I've seen this year. In my top 10. I'm going to go out and find the other two films Reygadas has written and directed. He's on to something that jives . I recommend you find it and watch it. It's an amazing parable. Check out my tees HERE and my art HERE.

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