Battle In Heaven

"Good"

Battle In Heaven Review


A fat man stands in front of the screen, naked as a jaybird. The camera slowly makes its way down to the fact that he is getting a blowjob from a strikingly pretty, dreadlocked girl. The camera, quite fluidly, makes its way to a nearly-impossible close-up of the girl as she continues her activity. Then, right before the title comes up, a tear drops from each one of her eyes. Yes, we're dealing with that kind of film.

Marcos (Marcos Hernandez) drives for a high-ranked general in the Mexican army and also, carts around the general's daughter, Ana (Anapola Mushkadiz). Ana is the girl from the beginning scene, which is quickly dispelled as a daydream. Marcos has received word from his wife (Bertha Ruiz) that a baby which they kidnapped (a reason is curiously not given) has died. Marcos is sullen, but not panicked. Seeing him distracted, Ana offers to get him laid by one of her fellow high-end prostitutes. When the opportunity comes, he announces that he'll only have sex with Ana, whom he quickly admits the kidnapping to. She demands he go to the police, but not before jumping his bones. He tells his wife that he must confess, but not before the annual pilgrimage which serves as the tail-end of a sucker-punch ending.

Anyone familiar with Carlos Reygadas' first film, 2003's Japon, knows he is not an easy director to embrace. He is of a particular breed of art-house filmmakers that see controversial imagery and subject matter as a way to puncture our mindset which allows for an open discussion of sex, faith, and morality. Reygadas' use of sexuality is his strongest asset. He doesn't shy away from showing Marcos and his obese wife going at it without an inch of shame. He also has no problem allowing the camera to meditate on strong images like Marcos' limp penis and Ana's vagina. The Brown Bunny and 9 Songs are kids' stuff compared to the sexual acts Reygadas' uses to rile us up.

However, like fellow provocateur Catherine Breillat, his imagery doesn't come without a price. The style he peddles in is a considerably prickly and alienating way to show things, prompting many to walk out at Cannes (where it debuted) and even at the showing I attended at NYC's Angelika Theater. It has a fascinating feel of something new; an uncompromised vision of sex and faith that doesn't really care about its audience but doesn't condemn them either.

The actors, mostly amateurs, don't so much give performances as they are used by Reygadas to enhance the stirring imagery of his film. There are moments where the filmmaker, helped endlessly by the talented cinematographer Diego Martínez Vignatti, trails away from his characters to catch deep breaths of life outside his world (e.g. the sex scene between Ana and Marcos, where the camera exits the room to float in the snippets of dialogue that scatter throughout the neighborhood). In these moments, Reygadas shows a meditative nature that entrances the viewer, like a more restless Tsai Ming-Liang. His problem is that he doesn't balance these moments with his moments of carnal imagery with enough fluidity. That aside, I'd be lying if I didn't say this is one of the more original and piercing films I've seen in awhile.

Aka Batalla en el cielo.

Don't worry. She's not real.



Battle In Heaven

Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 26th October 2005

Distributed by: Tartan Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
Fresh: 26 Rotten: 31

IMDB: 5.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Carlos Reygadas

Producer: Carlos Reygadas, Jaime Romandia, , Susanne Marian

Starring: as Marcos, Anapola Mushkadiz as Ana, Bertha Ruiz as Marcos' Wife

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Zoolander 2 Movie Review

Zoolander 2 Movie Review

With virtually the same blend of wit and idiocy as the 2001 original, this fashion-scene...

A Bigger Splash Movie Review

A Bigger Splash Movie Review

Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) reteams with Tilda Swinton for this fresh, tricky...

Deadpool Movie Review

Deadpool Movie Review

Both the filmmakers and the characters on-screen are so pleased with themselves that this might...

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

Advertisement
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.