out of Five
Running time: 115
This dark and slightly surreal Mexican film is beautifully shot and features a string of naturalistic and impressive performances, but sadly its bizarre blend of eccentric scenes don’t really come together.
What’s it all about?
Written and directed by Carlos Reygadas, Post Tenebras Lux (which literally translates as After Darkness Light) follows Juan (Adolfo Jiménez Castro) and Natalia (Nathalia Acevedo), an affluent Mexican couple who live a seemingly idyllic life in the countryside with their two young children, Eleazar and Rut. However, the couple’s relationship soon starts to unravel as sexual ennui, Juan’s physical frustration and life’s everyday pressures begin to threaten their happiness and future.
From the opening scene, in which the adorable Eleazar Reygadas is running carefree through a field of cows to the final shots, which (rather strangely) show a British youth team playing rugby, the entirety of Post Tenebras Lux is beautifully shot. Having won the Best Director award at Cannes in 2012, Carlos Reygadas certainly proves his mettle as an audacious and powerful director, extracting naturalistic performances from his entire cast. In particular, Adolfo Jiménez Castro and Nathalia Acevedo work well together as the struggling man and wife and along with their two gorgeous children (who are played by the director’s real life son and daughter and pretty much steal every scene they’re in), they make a terrifically convincing on-screen family.
Although the film doesn’t really make much sense at face value, there’s a particular beauty and tenderness to the unusual blend of scenes, which each challenge different representations of evil and communicate character demons in their own unique way. The CGI devil (which appears in a particular scene that’s repeated twice) has divided critics, but with the content of Post Tenebras Lux in mind, it actually provides the film with a strong and meaningful metaphor.
As mentioned, sometimes the jumbled scenes struggle to flow together well and the ending that tries and hopes to tie everything together, sadly does not. Post Tenebras Lux is clearly a film that requires numerous watches and with that the strange and sexually explicit scenes, which although can be interesting to watch, might not appear to interrupt the film’s tone as much. However, after one viewing, it can be very challenging to fit the pieces of this unconventional drama together.
Post Tenebras Lux is an ambitious and audacious film, which although might not make much sense at first, is highly engaging and will challenge your expectations. Worth seeking out.