Our Time

Our Time

2019, NR, 177 min. Directed by Carlos Reygadas. Starring Carlos Reygadas, Natalia López, Eleazar Reygadas, Rut Reygadas, Phil Burgers, Maria Hagerman, Yago Martínez.

REVIEWED By Josh Kupecki, Fri., June 28, 2019

There are many people to blame for the auteur theory in film. But it is mostly the French. The idea of a film, and particularly its mise-en-scène, springing forth like Athena from Zeus’ head has a long history: from the venerable journal Cahiers du Cinéma and François Truffaut’s writings to André Bazin and those fucking Structuralists (I’m looking at you, Claude Lévi-Strauss and Roland Barthes). But if there is a filmmaker currently working on his own terms – a major tenet of that theory – it is Mexican writer/director Carlos Reygadas. Often inserting himself into his films as a major character and using the film format to work through issues that he is obviously struggling with himself, his work becomes an often intensely personal experience for the viewer, which in turn can become both cathartic and banal.

There are wondrous moments in Our Time, Reygadas’ latest navel-gazing epic, and they mostly involve children. The opening scenes of kids frolicking on the beach, drenched in sunlight and water, speak to carefree and idyllic moments that the filmmaker likes to juxtapose with the dramatic material he is concerned with. In this case, an esteemed poet, Juan (Reygadas), who with his wife Ester (López) is a rancher in the beautifully depicted Mexican countryside. But she has eyes on an American rancher nearby, Phil (Burgers), and infidelity and complications ensue. There are various characters giving voiceovers, pastoral environments that are often breathtaking, but one can’t help but think that this project was some sort of therapy for the filmmaker.

Which is fine, and often the case. But the lazy way the narrative flows feels overwrought at times, and the cuckolded husband story is trite. My favorite scene in the film follows a girl riding her bike across a muddy path. It is wondrously fleeting, but that is what Reygadas does best. It’s a shame that the narrative, with often astute and eloquent reflections on humanity, fails to cohere as a whole and gets bogged down by a common love triangle. Our Time is gorgeously filmed, but it is also vapid, and perhaps the languorous mind of this auteur needs to be shaken up.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Carlos Reygadas Films
Battle in Heaven
Hot new Mexican director Carlos Reygadas is back with his second feature which pushes his unflinching imagery into provocative realms.

Marjorie Baumgarten, April 7, 2006

First-time Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas is turning heads with his impressive debut feature, Japón. Following an Austin premiere during the Cine Las Americas film festival ...

Marjorie Baumgarten, May 16, 2003

More by Josh Kupecki
Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes
History of the avant-garde jazz pioneers is surprisingly lacking in innovation

July 19, 2019

The Fall of the American Empire
Oscar winner Denys Arcand mixes crime, political commentary

June 28, 2019


Our Time, Carlos Reygadas, Carlos Reygadas, Natalia López, Eleazar Reygadas, Rut Reygadas, Phil Burgers, Maria Hagerman, Yago Martínez

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle