Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
Silverio (Daniel Giménez Cacho) is a Mexican-American journalist about to be distinguished with a prestigious political award in Los Angeles. As the ceremony draws closer, he experiences something akin to imposter syndrome, questioning the accolades and simultaneously fearing any form of criticism from the outside. Silverio reflects on his past as he prepares video footage to represent his life’s work at the award show. Moving from Mexico to the US, then back to Mexico, he has uprooted his family and left them in a state of national limbo.
At its core, Bardo is an extravagant think-piece on cultural heritage and identity, consciously contradicting and offering no answers, only questions. Director Alejandro G Iñárritu once again experiments with the depiction of perception, the staging of the literal and the metaphor, of memory and self-deceit. When Silverio can’t have the last word in an argument, he simply blends out the other person’s speech, as if he has pressed “mute” on a remote control. The child that died shortly after birth he imagines crawling back up into his wife’s body, rather than coping with the loss outright. The narrative exploration is not unlike Birdman, even as setup and story are less captivating than the 2015 Best Picture Winner.
In terms of technique and craft, there is nothing to lament as the lavishly orchestrated tracking shots, the purposeful interplay of light and shadow and imposing set design visually engage the viewer, even when the plot may not be able to.
The bloated length of 174 minutes tests the audience’s patience – after several missed opportunities to bow out gracefully, one can see the shoulders of festival attendees droop each time another scene unrolls. It will be interesting to see how Netflix viewers will receive the film upon its release on the streaming platform.
Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths will release in select UK cinemas in December and globally on Netflix on 16th December.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths here: