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

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

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.