Thursday, 18 August 2016

REVIEW - LAST DAYS IN THE DESERT (RODRIGO GARCIA)


And now to Jesus. There is much interest to be found in examining the roots of christianity and the mythology behind it, not least in the religion's enduring relevance worldwide today. Alas, such interest is not to be found in Rodrigo Garcia's Last Days in the Desert, a vague, simplistic, intellectually barren fable. Intimacy is mistaken for substance, thus spoiling the indistinct, uncomplicated charm of the best fables, whilst failing to deliver the kind of philosophical wisdom it seeks to impart. Not that Garcia has few ideas, nor that they lack form, but that these ideas are largely not his own, and his treatment of them is resolutely mundane. Were there ever a case to be made that it was the cinematographer who actually directed a movie, it'd be Last Days in the Desert - the only lasting virtue of the film is Emmanuel Lubezki's photography. He too fails to educe any intellectual value from Garcia's thin concept, but at least succeeds in creating striking images that serve as the film's only reward for the viewer's patience. Patience is not what one expects to require for such a commonplace, middlebrow work as this, though required it certainly is - not that the film is slow-moving, only that it moves through each point in its progression so predictably, and with so little insight. Perhaps, to a christian, there is indeed much interest to be found in humdrum musings on the life of their saviour, but the rest of us may be resigned to seek salvation elsewhere.