El Movimiento

El Movimiento poster

El Movimiento movie poster

Shot in black and white in an almost square format and clocking at just over an hour, El Movimiento is an experimental work offering a dark look at the unification of Argentina. Set in 19th century in the desolated pampa, Benjamín Naishtat’s movie opens with a cruel sequence where a handful of soldiers blow up some old man’s head with a canon. We then meet another militia headed by the self-proclaimed leader of a political organization called the Movement. Despite their so-called righteous ambitions, they prove to be as ruthless as the first group of men and the movie focuses on following their actions, which include killing, stealing and making speeches to small crowds.

El Movimiento is not a movie for everybody. With restrictive guidelines and a tight budget coming from a grant, this is not a full feature film but rather an experiment. Featuring baroque sequences, a weird soundtrack, brutal situations and unsympathetic characters – all that being shown through a rather sinister photography – this is a harsh work to watch and quite an – intentionally – unpleasant experience.

To be frank, the movie suffers from typical flaws associated with most art filmmakers’ debuts, mostly an overuse of metaphors and weird imagery. It also shares similarities with the excellent, surreal Viggo Mortensen-starrer Jauja which also centered on a few soldiers lost in the Pampa, in the same era.

Despite its uneasy nature, Mr. Naishtat’s film still manages to capture spectators’ attention. Fans of Werner Herzog (Aguirre and the Wrath of God) and Wim Wenders (Paris Texas) will most particularly enjoy how the filmmaker is able to create haunting dark beauty out of despair.  He also delivers a pretty cynical political message, showing that important historical events often have disturbing origins – the same could be said about the French revolution.

Whether you embrace that kind of difficult work is up to you but, what is sure is that Mr.  Naishtat showcases real talent, not only when it comes to precise directing but also to willingly get under our skin.

Director: Benjamín Naishtat – Actors: Pablo Cedrón, Francisco Lumerman – Running Time: 1:10 – Year: 2015 – Country: Argentina
Click here to watch the El Movimiento trailer
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Fred Thom

Fred Thom

Editor-in-Chief/Founder/Film Critic at Plume Noire
The founder and editor-in-chief of Plume Noire, Fred Thom covers film festivals and writes movie reviews. He was born in Marseilles, France and is now living in Los Angeles, California.