BATTLE IN HEAVEN
Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
A middle-aged chauffeur and the daughter of a well-known Mexican general swap disturbing secrets. And we see a whole bunch of nudity.
Is it good movie?
Back in 2002, Alfonso Cuarón made the brilliant Y tu mamá también about the conquest of sexuality and the ramifications that it brings. It was stunning and never felt awkward or perverse and it gave you a very real look inside the heart of Mexico. Director Carlos Reygadas seems to be attempting to make another film about sexuality with his explicit yet ponderous Battle in Heaven. Yes, the two films are drastically different, while the former takes its subject seriously it is also daring and passionate. But Heaven will have none of that; there is nothing passionate about it. When Marcos (Marcos Hernández) and his wife (Berta Ruiz) kidnap an infant and it dies while in their custody, he decides to confess his sins to Ana (Anapola Mushkadiz). Ana is the daughter of some rich mofo but she gets off on prostituting herself. Marcos knows this and accepts it because it seems, he may be in love with her. All this sounds like a pretty interesting concept but sadly, that is not the case. Reygadas seems more interested in using static shots of his often uncomfortable actors, and sometimes just of their genitals.
Yes folks, there is nudity galore in this flick but this director loves his “realism”. He also indulges in one of the most disturbing love scenes in history, albeit a very real one between Marcos and his wife, both of which are slightly overweight (and by that I mean fat). Yes, fat people screw too, and it could make for an interesting watch but there is one problem. These are two of the worst performances I have ever seen. Now, watching horror movies you find that there are a whole bunch of talent-challenged actors but this flick is ridiculous. Marcos has the same expression whether he is getting head or talking about the death of an infant. Most of the time he looks like he is waiting for the director to say cut. There is not a bit of passion in him, from his empty gaze to his “high school drama class” posture. Add to that a ton of extras that can’t help but look into the camera when they walk by and you have possibly the worst performances captured on screen… EVER! Although, in all this muck there is a bright spot; Anapola Mushkadiz is really natural and quite stunning. And for the record we get close ups of her naked too. She really deserves a better movie.
And finally, the most painful thing that this movie has to offer; freakin' dull direction. Mr. Reygadas spends several seconds on “static” shots (aside from genitals). When he invites you into a love scene with Marcos and Ana (guess who has the biggest boobs?), he brings the camera around to show the city surrounding them. Slowly, he moves past buildings and other non-interesting things. I was getting to a point that I forgot what was happening in the scene. And when we finally get back to the lovers, they slowly lie next to each other and then… CUT TO: close up of Marcos' erect penis. Yes, this film is that bad. I’m sure there is a point to it all, somewhere in this heaping pile of turd, but I really don’t care. The only battle going on with this flick is the battle to not fast forward on the remote.
Video / Audio
Video: We are treated to a very nice Anamorphic Widescreen so we get the full impact of boredom.
Audio: The sound is also very good so you can hear Marcos read his dialogue off a cue card in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and DTS Surround Sound 5.1. Woohoo!
The extras are a slight step above the movie. Thanks Tartan Video! No, really. Thanks!
First off we get Carlos Reygadas and Anapola Mushkazid Interview (33:26) and hey… whatever movie they’re talking about sounds pretty interesting. So it must not be this one. This is a pretty in-depth look into the director’s thoughts and Anapola’s view of his film. They also discuss my favorite sex scene. Again, it could’ve been very interesting to see two very “real” looking people making love but since I didn’t give one iota of interest in them, it was just icky.
Then comes the Original Theatrical Trailer (2:01). Wow! Critics dug this movie according to the trailer. This was an Official Selection for Sundance, Toronto and Cannes? I guess I’m not “artsy” enough to get it. And by the way… the trailer didn’t make it look any better.
And finally we get Excerpts from "Japón". This was Carlos Reygadas first feature and frankly it looks better than this one. This section is split up so you can watch the scenes separately or all at the same time. They include; “To Kill Myself” (1:40), “Town Representative” (2:47), “Virgin Mary or God?” (3:19), “Alone” (4:11) and “Total Serenity” (3:13). Not a bad extra, but what’s the point of showing a bunch of scenes from another movie? Although the pot smokin’ grandma is cool!
And finally we get Tartan New Releases including Anatomy of Hell, Suspicious River and 9 Songs. I am curious to see the last two but I did happen to see “Anatomy of Hell” and I can never get that part of my life back.
Perhaps this is not my kind of “art”, but I found Carlos Reygadas Battle in Heaven to be just a pretension and passionless display. There was a good idea somewhere but the acting (aside from Ms. Mushkazid) was awful and the direction was slow and pointless. If you want to see a good film about Mexico… just watch anything but this.