Battle In Heaven (Batalla En El Cielo) (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner26/10/2005

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 98 mins

Battle In Heaven suffers from an infuriatingly slow pace and a certain air of impenetrable arthouse movie but it’s worth persevering with for some striking imagery and some genuinely shocking scenes.

The Background
Mexican director Carlos Reygadas made a minor arthouse splash with the critically-acclaimed Japón, back in 2002. His follow-up feature requires a similar amount of hard work, but it’s a thought-provoking, frequently shocking film with some striking imagery and impressive performances from his two non-professional leads.

The Story
Set in present-day Mexico City, the film opens with an explicit sex scene featuring an overweight, unattractive, middle-aged man named Marcos Hernández. However, Marcos and his wife (Bertha Ruiz) have a more serious problem - the baby they kidnapped from a friend (Rosalinda Ramirez) has died.

In addition to his sideline as a kidnapper, Marcos works as a driver and bodyguard for a general, whose wild-child daughter Ana works as a prostitute for pleasure. Marcos finds himself confessing his crimes to her, in order to take advantage of her services but his actions spiral out of control.

The Good
The explicit sex is not intended to be titillating and Reygadas films it in a coldly dispassionate style that seems to take a clinical interest in the bodies of the actors. Reygadas also uses extremely long takes, which occasionally force the audience to confront the shocking imagery they have just seen.

The Great
Hernández and Mushkadiz are both non-professional actors and they give extremely impressive performances. At first Marcos seems deceptively passive and low-key, so the scene where he finally acts is an incredibly shocking moment.

The Conclusion
In short, Battle In Heaven may not be the most easily accessible of arthouse pictures, but if you’re prepared to stick out the occasional overindulgence, there’s enough here to make it worthwhile.

Film Trailer

Battle In Heaven (Batalla En El Cielo) (18)
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Content updated: 17/07/2018 06:46

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