In Battle in Heaven (AKA Batalla en el Cielo), director Carlos Reygadas' searing look at the inherent hypocrisies of Mexico's social structure, Marcos Hernandez is Marcos, an overweight, poverty-stricken chauffeur who longs for a better life for his wife and young son. Desperate, the couple kidnaps an infant child for ransom. When the baby dies in their custody, this simple crime that Marcos hoped would brighten his family's future instead adds a crushing burden to his conscience and will bring dire consequences for Marcos and his wife if discovered. Meanwhile, Ana, an affluent general's daughter whom Marcos chauffeurs from place to place, secretly battles ennui by prostituting herself in a local brothel with her friends. The two confide their darkest secrets in one another, and as Marcos urges Ana to drop out of whoring, Ana tries to convince Marcos to turn himself in. Marcos, however, will not listen, insisting that true forgiveness and redemption must come from above. Batalla en el Cielo marked the second major international release for director Reygadas, after the acclaimed Japon (2002). ~ Nathan Southern, All Movie Guide
GreenCine Exclusive Interview
Writing in the New York Times, Dennis Lim recently called Carlos Reygadas's second feature, Battle in Heaven, "an anomaly among today's explicit art films, which often deploy sex more as a stunt than a subversion." Read our exclusive interview with the controversial director. Full article >>
i enjoyed this film 1. i didn't notice any extraneous musical scoring - all music you hear happens IN the film - to me this = less manipulation and allows you to interpret and feel the film your own way - hollywood fails in this respect 99.99% of the time "feel/think this now!" 2. a lot of the photography seems more like still shots or even paintings than motion picture - this combined with a slow pacing that for me underscored the sense of discomfort 3. the story unfolds in a somewhat non-linear fashion - unless you read the sleeve, you won't discover major plot points until 1/3 into the movie 4. all of these things combine to create what i find a very beautiful and generous ambiguity - i know most people like to be TOLD every little detail and have every possibility and action resolved down to the atomic level - i personally like things more open-ended - the zenmaster doesn't answer the questions, he asks them
The first scene promised a frank yet open take on Latin American social and cross-cultural questions. Yet the film is conceptually irreconcilable and politically naive: issues come up but are never addressed. On top of that, the cinematography is flaky; and, despite what had to be very difficult scenes, the acting is blah. The only thing that felt honest and unaffected was the sex, which didn't make the rest of the film any less condescending and stupid. Does real sex make for revolutionary, avant-garde cinema? I think NOT.
Forget the zombies of George Romero. The real walking dead appear to have moved to Mexico and hired out to Carlos Reygadas. On the basis of this writer/director's "Japon" and now BATTLE IN HEAVEN, he seems to know only those who are one step this side of the grave--emotionally, intellectually, every which way. Watching a Reygadas movie is a major endurance test, but at least his latest is a good deal shorter than his earlier, so you won't have to endure quite so long.
The plot is minimal, characterization minimal, cinematography minimal, and boredom maximum. As Reygadas appears to see it, Mexico is a dead society. I'm not disagreeing, mind you, but perhaps this would-be moviemaker ought to depart for climes more conducive to positive thought or action. But, no: it's always easier to stew in one's own juices. So the camera looks and looks and discovers... nothing. Not in the repeated flag raising/lowering, not in the bell ringing, not in the unusual scene in which we watch an erection slowly losing its steam.
Whoa--guess this must be an "art" film? Not even that. Art films require some semblance of acting skill (call it perceptible human behavior). This movie is a fake--the saddest about which is that the director is not "posing" here. He just doesn't have a clue.
Official Selection, Certain Regards... and more. Here is a bit more information on the films screened at the Cannes. I have attempted to list all the films that were considered for an award as well as any special screenings.