Cannes Review – Post Tenebras Lux (After Darkness, Light)

After Darkness, Light tells the story of the dissolution of a Mexican family through disconnected sequences.

It seems that Mexican director Carlos Reygadas came up with the idea for After Darkness, Light after seeing Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life while incredibly tired. The film feels as though it is inspired by the fantastic Malick flick – which won the Palme D’or at last year’s Cannes – but Reygadas has tried to recreate Tree of Life on a budget, and without any of the visual flair.

The story loosely follows a Mexican family whose patriarch is cruel and slightly sexually perverse, but this story could have been told in a 15 minute short film. To make up the rest of the running time, Reygadas bombards the audience with a series on disconnected images and sequences that have little to do with well, anything.

After Darkness, Light could easily have been an interesting piece of work, but the images are banal – even with the ripple effect caused by the lens – and the only two sequences that were actually worth paying attention to happened at the start of the film.

By the end of the film, when a character commits suicide in an incredibly bizarre manner, the audience has checked out. The devil has become the third person in the marriage, and when it ends, the light begins. It’s just a shame we don’t get to see any of the light.

It seems as though Reygadas directed the film with no thought as to camera placement or what the audience will actually get from the film, and this is it’s main downfall. Most of us can sit through an arthouse movie and find something redeeming even in the worst of films, but After Darkness, Light is incoherent, dreary and indulgent.

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