Norte, The End of History

"Good"

Norte, The End of History Review


At four hours long, this film isn't for casual moviegoers, but fans of ambitious cinema will enjoy its scale, even though it's more of an extended personal drama than a proper epic. Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz is known for his lengthy projects (this is actually one of his shorter movies), but he has a way of digging into a story to capture both the tiniest character detail and the much bigger picture.

The film follows two men whose lives impact each other in a series of events inspired by Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. First there's Fabian (Sid Lucero), a law school dropout who hangs out with his student pals discussing how society is heading into oblivion because nothing means anything anymore. Meanwhile, poor working class dad Joaquin (Archie Alemania) is unable to work due to an injury, which is putting severe pressure on him, his wife Eliza (Angeli Bayani) and their young children. Both Fabian and Joaquin are in debt to the local loan shark Magda (Mae Paner), a harsh woman who won't hear any excuses. In a moment of rage, Fabian kills Magda and her daughter, but the suspicion falls on Joaquin, who is wrongly convicted and sent to prison. As he adjusts to his grim new life behind bars, Eliza struggles to survive, while Fabian tries to soothe his conscience with good acts before giving up on morality altogether.

Intriguingly, although their lives are inextricably entwined, Diaz and his cowriter Rody Vera never let Fabian and Joaquin meet. As the privileged, cold-hearted Fabian goes through his own private hell, the nobly poor Joaquin and Eliza continually try to make the best of of their respective prison and poverty. Thankfully for a film with such a bleak premise, this isn't a mopey downer. Diaz directs each scene with a bristling edge of energy that allows the characters to emerge as fully formed people whose decisions and actions resonate with provocative honesty. Meanwhile, he also adds several poetic touches with the gorgeous coasts and countryside, sweeping camerawork and just a bit of magical realism.

On the other hand, the film is more than four hours long, which is rather excessive. Watching it is like sitting through four episodes of a TV series in which things happen very slowly. But the issues the events explore are gripping, especially as Diaz shifts back and forth between the idealistic rich and the pragmatic poor. In this case, money certainly doesn't make up for a lack of morality. And the final act is a series of nasty violence and unclear surrealism designed to challenge viewers to think about the issue. It's also a startling portrait of the disparity of life in the Philippines, with parallels that are all too recognisable anywhere on earth.

Rich Cline

 

 



Norte, The End of History

Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 250 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 11th March 2014

Distributed by: Cinema Guild

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 24 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Lav Diaz

Producer: Raymond Lee

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman reunite with The Switch directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck...

Snowden Movie Review

Snowden Movie Review

Here's another remarkable biopic from Oliver Stone, who has used all-star casts and intensely pointed...

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

This true story from 19th century America feels eerily relevant today in its depiction of...

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Advertisement
Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

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.