When an experimental piece of work decides to forego the traditional language of cinema, the results can be decidedly hit-and-miss. Los conductos hits many of its marks with a great deal of nobility, but there’s a fundamental flaw in director Camilo Restrepo’s feature debut. Presented in grainy, almost dirty 16mm, Restrepo’s background is in short films, and Los conductos feels like a feature that really should have been shorter, despite its mere 70 minutes running time.
Pinky (Luis Felipe Lozano) roams across Bogotá, often on the back of a motorbike, with a vague smile on his face. A voiceover speaks of a type of collective he’s a member of – a group “united by the sense of loss we feel in the world.” The collective funds its existence by piggybacking on capitalism (namely by making counterfeit clothing), and its aims are fairly obtuse – but it’s not as though much enlightenment is required for a deeper understanding.
The film ends up meandering, and while the story deliberately eschews the standard structure of cinema, it simply seems to run out of momentum well before the credits. The characters converse in a lyrical, deliberately artificial fashion, intercut with intense closeups – predominantly of mechanical objects, shot in a way to give them an air of menace, accompanied by wonderfully oppressive sound design. The whole effect is rather hypnotic, until it’s diminished by its own repetition.
It could be assumed that Restrepo has watched all of David Lynch’s cinematic output, but the film’s visual aesthetic is still its own – and quite striking it is too. Perhaps Los conductos had an ambition to make a bold statement about social inequality in Colombia, and the catastrophic division that this has caused. Less (running time) would have been more, and what could have been a searing indictment becomes a heartfelt, though mild, piece of commentary.
Los conductos does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2020 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Los conductos here: