Review: Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths.
A nostalgic comedy set against an epic journey. A chronicle of uncertainties where the main character, a renowned Mexican journalist and documentary filmmaker, returns to his native country to face his identity, familial relationships, and the folly of his memories, as well as the past and new reality of his country.
Daniel Giménez Cacho.
Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths is another mesmerisingly shot existential drama by Alejandro G. Iñárritu brimming with his iconic and effective style to tell a story so deeply layered, it’s difficult to decipher on first watch. It’s clear that this is a personal project of his, shown immediately with the casting that resembles Alejandro in real life. As well as the narrative being centred around a successful and celebrated director.
Usually when discussing Alejandro projects, it’s hard to bring up how incredibly well crafted each frame is whether it’s camerawork or production. Apparent in all his films is his use of the long take, often going on for many a minute, documenting people as they are and each subtle expression they make. With a film about a documentary filmmaker, I felt the long take was incredible effective, complimented by the extremely wide angle lens that gave the impression as though Alejandro wanted to document surroundings and life itself in full view.
The character is in deep regret of a lot of decisions in his life, both professionally and personally. As well as the film diving into commentary on America, or media. I greatly enjoyed the decision to use fantasy to represent it, where Silverio would walk around or watch the world around him as things unfold. Mostly being in his head, a metaphor for his filmmaking creativeness. Both reflected in his character and Alejandro himself. There’s a lot more metaphorical meaning behind every moment, but for a film trying to tell so much, that’s hard to break down after one viewing.
Unfortunately this is where the film takes a negative turn. It has a runtime of nearly 3 hours and it didn’t entirely earn itself. For a story so packed and layered, the runtime often drowned its meaning out, instead of allowing views to soak in what they are being told and moving on. While the dialogue is fantastic, it’s dialogue that could be shaved to achieve the same result, resulting in a shorter and snappier runtime to leave a larger audience with the same emotional response. This overlong of sequences threw the pacing off, feeling rather boring in moments as I had already gathered the meaning before the sequence ends.
All the technicals & performances are fantastic, particularly the score that was gorgeously composed. And while the cinematography is absolutely superb, it often limits itself with the wide angle lens to do more subtle visual storytelling. It’s a lot to unpack, but if you’re ready for it, you’re ready for the job and I bid you good luck.