Winner, Best Director, Cannes Film Festival
From his auspicious debut feature Japón onward, Mexican iconoclast Carlos Reygadas has proven himself one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary cinema. With Post Tenebras Lux (‘After Darkness, Light’), his most personal and demanding film to date, Reygadas eschews narrative chronology in favour of a kaleidoscopic vision of a family sliding between tenderness and violence, guilt and repentance.
A little girl wanders alone on an open, muddy pasture at dusk, surrounded by animals, increasingly frightened by the storm brewing above her head. The girl is one of two toddlers (played by Reygadas’ own children) belonging to an affluent young couple, Juan (Adolfo Jiménez Castro) and Natalia (Nathalia Acevedo), who reside in a lush, country villa. Following the family’s daily routine with quiet attentiveness, Reygadas soon reveals demons – literal demons – lurking within this seemingly idyllic domesticity. This already fraught summer comes careening to a halt when a sudden act of violence leaves Juan injured and desperate, setting in motion a final rush of fevered events.
Shifting from his own reminiscences to projections of the future, from a child’s perspective to some very adult growing pains, Reygadas has created one of the most challenging and indelible films of the year.
Diana Sanchez, Toronto International Film Festival