Three years after his Best Director win at Cannes, Mexican auteur Amat Escalante is back on the festival circuit with La Región Salvaje (The Untamed), which premiered last week at the Venice Film Festival before making its way across the pond to Toronto. Spinning a surreal story of marital disfunction, a mysterious murder, and a sexual frenzy-inducing extraterrestrial life form, The Untamed brings the director of brutally realist festival fare like Heli into decidedly new territory.
The film kicks off by exploring the complicated home life of Ale and her macho husband Ángel, who is carrying on an affair with Ale’s brother, Fabián. When Fabián is invited on a country jaunt by a female patient, he is turns up dead – the victim of an apparent sexual assault. An official investigation eventually digs up Fabián and Ángel’s illicit relationship, and Ángel is taken into custody, leaving Ale with her overbearing suegra. This is when the aforementioned sexual alien thing is introduced and things just start getting really weird.
No official trailer has been released for The Untamed, but an exclusive clip released by Variety gives us a sense of the film’s dreamy style, with a long, uninterrupted tracking shot guiding us through a foggy landscape reminiscent of the films of Escalante’s cinematic mentor, Carlos Reygadas. A dissonant play of strings adds a touch of impending doom to the soundtrack, while a bloodstain forming on our protagonist’s shirt hints at some classic Escalante touches.
The Untamed will have its North American premiere this Friday at the Toronto Film Festival.