One of the most exciting Mexican directors working today is getting the retrospective treatment at the Museum of the Moving Image. Ahead of Carlos Reygadas‘ latest release, the open marriage drama Nuestro Tiempo (Our Time), New York audiences will get to revisit his four previous features. That includes his film debut Japón (2002) which announced him as a thrilling new voice in the Mexican cinematic landscape. Starring a cast of nonactors, Japón courted provocation by focusing on a man fleeing Mexico City and arriving at an isolated village to commit suicide only for a chance encounter with a pious older woman to rekindle a reawakening of his desires.
Reygadas followed up with Batalla en el cielo (Battle in Heaven), about a chauffeur who seeks absolution for a horrific crime committed while having an affair with his boss’s daughter, whose long takes and explicit scenes showed him embracing a quasi-documentary aesthetic that continue to characterize his work. The films that followed, 2007’s Luz silenciosa (Silent Light) and 2012’s Post Tenebras Lux, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and earned him accolades (a Jury prize and a Best Director award respectively), that further cemented him as a world-class director pushing the boundaries of cinema. Clearly fascinated with illicit desires and an ever-expansive look at contemporary Mexico (Luz takes place in a Mennonite community near Chihuahua where a man faces the choice whether to commit adultery; Post is an impressionistic psychological portraiture of a family in crisis), his projects are brazenly sexual in content and visually daring in form.
As the Museum put it in its announcement of the weeklong retro, “the common threads of Reygadas’s work are a frank, often merciless reckoning with tensions and imbalances between social classes, and a parallel, not unrelated friction between fiction and reality, artifice and nature.” The retrospective encompasses all five features by Reygadas along with select shorts, and culminates with a special preview screening of Our Time, with Reygadas and his wife and co-star Natalia López in person. Surely, the conversation they’ll have about what it was like playing a married on-screen couple who decide to test out an open marriage while continuing to care for their bullfighting farm, will be well worth the admission ticket.
Natural Transgressions: The Films of Carlos Reygadas runs June 8 — 13, 2019, at Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, NY and Our Time opens at the Quad in New York City on June 14, 2019 before expanding to other cities.