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

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

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.