Carlos Reygadas’ sixth feature film, Our Time, almost hits the three-hour mark and it feels exactly as long as it is. At face value, the movie is about a man in a strained open relationship with his wife. It takes real willpower to patiently wait for that to be unveiled.
The picture opens with a long interlude on the nearby lake in the state of Tlaxcala, Mexico. The camera glacially captures the young children playing. Next, flirting teenagers take the stage. The imposed movement through the passage of love and life is clear and eventually Juan (Reygadas) arrives at the heart of the feature with his wife Esther (Natalia Lopez, Reygadas’ wife). Yet, before the director delves into the couple’s emotional ride, Esther slowly and clearly dictates to the housekeeper across a walkie-talkie how to make pasta sauce for the children. Real life is sometimes as banal as the movies.
The style of the film is sprawling. Reygadas aestheticises the natural world in a hyper-masculine milieu somewhere between Juan’s bull ranch and prize-givings for his award-winning poetry. The symbolism of his bulls – violent and instinctive, battling across his expansive lands – is rather on the nose, as is much of the piece’s extraneous fabric. It also takes epic jumps across space from the ranch to ornate music halls to a grand aerial POV of the city through the clouds. It similarly experiments when exploring the emotional lives of the characters. Reygadas allows his audience to infringe on the privacy of his marriage with his typed, word-by-word email exchanges with his wife’s lover (an American horse-breaker played by Phil Burgers), narrated text exchanges and the occasional voice-over from his children omnisciently unpacking the situation at hand.
Our Time is a tall order to watch – a slow burn that brilliantly lights up and extinguishes for its audience many times. Nonetheless, if you do stick it out, it’s ultimately a stunning ride with seductive camera movement, yours to call lyrical and literary or pretentious and self-indulgent.
Our Time is released in select cinemas on 12th July 2019.
Watch the trailer for Our Time here: