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In Netflix’s Bard, a Best Picture winner masturbates

This review was originally published in conjunction with BardTheatrical release. It has been updated and republished for the movie’s release on Netflix.

the subtitle of Bard, the Netflix movie the revenant Y bird man director Alexander G. Inner, is A false chronicle of a handful of truths. But whenever we attach pretentious postscripts, a quote from Macbeth might be more appropriate: Sound and fury, they don’t mean a thing. a lot happens in Bard, much of it surreal. Elaborate musical numbers, dream sequences, alternate histories, and chronological mishaps all factor into this sprawling, whimsical, and personal film. But once the lights come on and the spell is broken, all those punchy images end up feeling remarkably empty.

To be fair, bard’s The main character, the famous Mexican journalist and documentarian Silverio Gama (Daniel Giménez Cacho), is also tormented by emptiness. He is a man without a country, both in the sense that he divides his time between Mexico and the United States, and in a more abstract, existential way. Silverio was a journalist. He then left his job and his country to strike out on his own as a documentary filmmaker. He has found tremendous success in his new career, but something continues to trouble Silverio. He is deeply insecure, but wildly selfish at the same time. That sounds like a contradiction, but it’s familiar to anyone who has ever met an artist.

Bard it feels like a sketchpad or a series of snapshots, marrying mundane moments with profound ones to form a loose narrative about Silverio’s life. The story begins with the loss long ago of a stillborn child, Mateo, whose death still follows Silverio and his wife Lucia (Griselda Sicgliani). Lucia literally walks out of the delivery room still dragging the child’s umbilical cord, which stretches to an endless length, dangling from the bottom of her hospital gown like a tail.

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Silverio (Daniel Gimenez Cacho), a long-haired man in a plain white shirt, closes his eyes and waves his hands in front of his face as he dances in a packed crowd in Bardo: A False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths.

Photo: S. De RL de C./Limbo Films

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From there, Iñárritu jumps to Silverio’s imagined reunion with an old enemy, in which he is humiliated on Mexican television by a former colleague who accuses him of being too good for his home country. then there is other jump, this brings us to the heart of the story: Silverio is the first Latin American journalist to receive a major award from a US association, and he is being feted on both sides of the border to celebrate.

The events in the film suggest that Iñárritu is expressing an autobiographical story in a stylized and elaborate metaphor. he is not a documentary filmmaker, but his Academy Awards – Best Director for the revenant; Best Film, Director and Screenplay for bird man —provide a clear and convenient parallel to Silverio’s great honor. There is also the fact that Cacho resembles Iñárritu, and that the men come from the same privileged economic and social class.

Iñárritu scourges himself for his bourgeois sins: Silviero believes he is a man of the people, but he does not defend an indigenous servant when she is treated badly in an elegant spa. He demands to speak to a manager every time a match doesn’t go his way. He dismisses his son’s identity crisis (the boy grew up in both Mexico and California, and feels he doesn’t belong in either) as he feeds on his own reflections on what it means, in reality. mediumbe mexican.

In the end, that particular line of thought leads to Silverio having a smoke with Hernán Cortés (Ivan Massagué) on top of a pile of Aztec corpses in Mexico City’s central plaza, a scene that is reversed to reassure viewers that they shouldn’t. . Don’t worry, it’s all a movie. Just a little bit of playing pretend, that’s all. The scope and art of the sequence are impressive, but as the culmination of 165 minutes of belly-button gazing (and that’s the cut version: the original cut ran for 179 minutes), it’s a disappointing note. Similarly, a surreal early scene of Silverio riding the Los Angeles subway with axolotls swimming in a foot of water at his feet finally returns. But then again, the payoff takes too long to be worth the wait.

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Silverio (Daniel Gimènez Cacho), a shaggy-haired man in a plain black suit, stands in a sun-drenched desert with a mesa in the distance, looking over his shoulder at the camera, in Bardo: False Chronicle of a handful of truths

Photo: S. De RL de CV/Limbo Films

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And these are two of the most compelling structural connections. Much of Bard it’s made up of scenes that don’t relate to each other in any meaningful way, and the film’s many time jumps and flights of fancy obscure the emotional truths that lie at its core. The only sentimental thread that emerges is Silverio’s love for Lucía. But, no offense to Sicgliani, or his supposed real-life counterpart, there’s nothing revolutionary about a sexy one-dimensional wife who gazes adoringly at the camera, is always up for a romp topless, and doesn’t have much else to do. tell.

In an era where the egos of powerful men in the entertainment industry have taken a beating, it’s quite an achievement to make such a self-indulgent film. The thanks (or blame) go to Netflix, one of the last places where an Oscar-winning author can raise a ton of money and do whatever he wants with it. The egotism is so potent, in fact, that it begins to erode the film’s humble façade after a while, raising the question of whether this is really modest satire or just the world’s most superficial collection of deep thoughts. year. Either way, a lack of clarity indicates a lack of communication.

A self-proclaimed truth teller lying to himself to protect his ego is a fun idea, and early in the film Silverio says, “If you can’t play the game, you don’t deserve to be taken seriously.” .” But despite Iñárritu’s mild protests, Bard he takes himself seriously. And his self-awareness is so limited that Iñárritu talks and talks, the inverse relationship between his own seriousness and the seriousness with which the viewer is inclined to take him reaches a breaking point. The film’s title references a Buddhist concept of the liminal space between death and rebirth, which ends up resonating in a different way than its creator may have intended: Bard he tries to do so much that in the end he says nothing.

Bardo: a false chronicle of a handful of truths it is now streaming on Netflix.

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