DIFF Review: Post Tenebras Lux


Director:Carlos Reygadas

Cast:Adolfo Jiménez Castro, Nathalia Acevedo, Willebaldo Torres

Running Time:115.00


Filmed in the Mexican countryside, Post Tenebras Lux has some of the most beautiful, haunting scenes I've ever seen in a film. But if you asked me what I actually saw as a whole, I'd have no idea what to say. 

Partly autobiographical, but also filled with sequences that are entirely fantasy, it feels like a series of vignettes that are connected in the most tangential way possible. Ostensibly, the protagonist is Juan, one of the wealthiest men in his village. He's supposed to be complicated, but there's no quicker way to turn your audience against the lead than to see him mercilessly beating a dog. 

Though he occasionally recognizes his own awfulness, it's hard to tell if he ever achieves something approaching redemption. That's mainly because the film is presented out of order, which is the trope I'm most sick of lately. Unless you've got a sharp script, non-chronological films only serve to confound the audience and give the appearance of artistic intent. It comes off as pretentious, especially when the film also indulges another pet peeve of mine: lots of seemingly improvised scenes followed by lots of silence. Just write some quality dialogue!

Post Tenebras Lux could easily play at a museum, but it's not going to play well at a movie theater, even an indie one. That's because it's not enjoyable, it's not challenging. It's only frustrating. A scene at an orgy and another at a rugby game appear to have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the story. They're filmed in bracingly long takes, but like the movie in total, completely meaningless.

At a scene at a party, one older gentleman says, "We keep waiting for something to happen. Sitting and waiting." I knew exactly how he felt. 


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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