Saturday, 18 October 2014

LFF REVIEW - JAUJA (LISANDRO ALONSO)


Lisandro Alonso brings us on a journey back to reality, across unknown spaces in both geography and time. Jauja occurs as does a dream, its advent in some vague realm of understanding, giving way to the weight of the abstract that hovers above it, turning the image on Timo Salminen's grainy film acidic shades of chartreuse, lemon and beguiling blue tones. Red cuts through at times, a crude intrusion, its uncultured arrogance trespassing on these pastoral scenes, just as Alonso's cast of intruders do. They have become lost in ostentation and self-importance, imposing upon the land on which they tread unnatural laws and habits. First and last in Alonso's concern is that land, that which these humans purport to conquer; they are forever at its mercy, unengaged with it until they can avoid its dominance no longer. They are each so rigorously posed, occupying a supposedly impenetrable space in their environment, certain in their confidence, blind to what lies beyond each new horizon. Oh, those horizons. The eye scans either side of them for some sign of warmth and welcome - Jauja's beauty is soothing, almost distractingly so, but in a deceptive, cruelly beautiful way, and thus we do not doubt where the true power lies in this intriguing film. Viggo Mortensen's Danish captain's sense of self begins to wither as his physical strength and mental lucidity do - he embarks on that journey back to reality with us, encountering little but mystery at its end. The cryptic close of Jauja awakens us to our own arrogance, our innate apprehension that we will learn, we will understand, no matter how long it takes. It takes Captain Dinesen his whole life and longer, yet the landscape he will traverse to his death is the most unfamiliar of all.