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

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie 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.