Hardscrabble ecstasy | Bleader

Hardscrabble ecstasy

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We're just past the midpoint at this year's CIFF, but already it's hard to imagine anything topping Carlos Reygadas's Silent Light (Stellet Licht) for sheer ecstatic impact. Which almost seems paradoxical, since the movie's default emotional setting never rises above stone-cold sober. A very solemn kind of ecstasy then—like Carl Th. Dreyer's, from whom Reygadas cops his story's improbable resolution. Deus ex machina, since even with deities of field and pond and clapboard farmstead let loose in this tale of love and death (or is it?) in an isolated German-Mexican Mennonite community, there's still our apparently mechanical need to tie these rapturous, radiating strands together. Or provide some kind of narrative excuse, so all of us (including yours truly) can safely burble on about this or that literal plot point without ever worrying about what it's all for—immediacy without an articulated "overarching" view. Since in fact the ecstatic "truth" lies elsewhere, in the visceral/textural transport, the play of sensuous light on the quotidian and hardscrabble: "spiritual" liberation through the irreducibly tactile, the deep phenomenological surface of the world ... but ssshhhh, don't let anyone know.

Silent Light plays twice more at the fest (Fri 10/12 and Tue 10/16, both at odd times), and when we'll see it in town next is anybody's guess. As of right now, no U.S. distribution's been planned (though Tartan Films does have foreign rights), so all we can do is keep our fingers crossed.

UPDATE 10/17: Silent Light has been awarded CIFF's Gold Hugo for best feature at this year's fest. For a complete rundown of of this year's festival winners, click here

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