Month: June 2015

Jauja (2015, Lisandro Alonso)

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Jauja

I don’t know but when I dream (I’ve never had nightmares no matter how bizarre the dream went on) the events or images usually run fast, peaking up to a point of breathlessness, or I might not really have a good perception of time there. In the movie Jauja, whether it’s the dream part or it’s reality, the camera seemed to have dilly-dallied, which made me remember more the view of the landscape dotted by two to three moving beings, usually a man sharing the frame with a horse, or with a dog. In the first few minutes I thought it was a period film all throughout, a story of a girl who tried to escape her father’s protectiveness to satisfy her curiosities. The movie slowly turned into a father’s search for his runaway daughter. He found an old lady after the long search, conversed with her about things, then he walked away, probably bewildered, probably half-sane, his smallness harmonizing with an exotic place, coming previously from a savanna sprinkled with what-could-be prehistoric boulders, into a barren expanse which reeked of charcoal. Then with a prolonged postscript, the same girl-daughter woke up in a mansion, in present time, with her dogs, with a large property of land, the last few minutes completely thrashing all what I initially thought the movie was. I uncomplainingly scratched my head as the last frame disappeared.
There were excellent scenes. One scene where a lieutenant masturbated submerged in a natural pond reminded me of some irreverent photo still from Norman Jewison’s Jesus Christ Superstar. The father (Viggo Mortensen) seeing his face reflected green on the river–which I could have mistaken for Ringo Starr post-Sgt Peppers or for George Harrison–I have no other word to describe it but magical. Some weird thing inside me expected some ribald scene, giving homage to classic porn, but it appropriately did not happen. One very good welcome replacement was a suggestion of sex: A scene where the young couple sat side by side, then the young man started to kiss the girl’s lips after the girl kissed his back. It was cut to a frame wherein you see his forehead, his hair–we know he was still kissing her–then his head disappeared, leaving a rectangle space filled with a third of the blue sky over the mountains, the mountains flanked by ferns and grasses whose stalks were blurred at the edges. It ran for less than a minute. That was one of my favorite shots.
There was little dialogue, and when they did happen, especially when the father met the old woman, the conversations seemed to run elliptical. Those exchanges of words and the old woman’s voice-overs were worth pondering. Sounds used were mostly diegetic: the wind, the flapping parts of the tent, the hoof steps–except for that beautiful guitar music which played on the background while the father rested on a boulder one night, holding that little item that reminded him of his daughter. I’m not sure but the song sounded flamenco to me, a poignant instrumental that spoke of longing and love. That short interlude evoked magic and anticipation. It encapsulated what I thought the movie was about: dreaming, being lost, being found, then, finding connections.