The Ardor | Chicago Reader

The Ardor

Argentinian writer-director Pablo Fendrik transposes a classical western narrative to the Amazonian rain forest: Gael Garcia Bernal (in an uncharacteristically flat performance) plays a mysterious stranger who comes to the aid of a farming family when bounty hunters employed by a local sawmill try to force them off their land. The story has been dressed up not only with an environmentalist message but with magic realist flourishes, including the spooky possibility that Bernal's character is really an avenging spirit summoned by the forest. Unfortunately the movie loses this supernatural vibe in the second half, settling into a rather literal-minded revenge tale, though like much Argentinian art cinema it makes effective and poetic use of the natural settings. With Alice Braga. In Spanish with subtitles.

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