Battle in Heaven | Chicago Reader

Battle in Heaven

Not for the faint of heart, this grim 2005 feature by Mexican director Carlos Reygadas (Japon) mines the same vein of Christian self-loathing and curdled sexual desire often associated with Paul Schrader. The main character, a meek, potbellied chauffeur for a geriatric former general, is devoted to his mountain of a wife but harbors a secret passion for the general's lithe young daughter, who turns tricks at an upscale brothel. Since premiering at Cannes the movie has become notorious for its shocking, emphatically unerotic sex scenes, though it's equally notable for its striking visual conceits and small moments of intense feeling. Reygadas worked with nonprofessional actors and no script, which accounts for some of the movie's power and may also explain the rhetorical religiosity of its climax, a flagellant procession. In Spanish with subtitles. 98 min.

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