Cine Las Americas Review: Vigilia

Julieta Ledesma cloaks emotional violence in magical realism

In her follow-up to 2016's fantastical Un Plan Perfector, director Julieta Ledesma has created the stunning beautiful and unabashedly avant garde Vigilia (Being Awake).

The Uruguayan feature follows the life of a young man, who after waking up in the middle of the desert, makes his way home to his mentally ill mother and his physically confrontational father. Once he arrives there, the family begins to be inexplicably haunted by a black dog who terrorizes their farm animals.

With a carefully curated color palette. and tasteful doses of religious references and iconography, Ledesma has crafted a universe of rife with themes of isolation, repressed sexuality and violence. She also plays smartly with framing and symmetry to help express what her characters really feel without the words that they cannot bring themselves to say out loud.

Though at times the slow pace of the movie rivals that of the languid countryside it is set in, Vigilia is inarguably an artful piece of cinema. Blurring the lines between reality and the supernatural, it forces viewers to bear witness to the tragedy of a family unable to express what they truly want and need from one another.

Cine Las Americas International Film Festival ran May 2-6. For more on the festival, read "Not Just the Border," April 27.

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