Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths review: Iñárritu’s visual spectacle is underwhelming

‘Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths’, is a Mexican dark comedy-drama co-written, edited, produced, and directed by Five-time Academy Award-winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman and The Revenant). 

It revolves around Silverio Gama, a Mexican documentary filmmaker in LA who travels back to his home country and contemplates his entire life through outlandish visions and perspectives. 

It was released theatrically in September and is now streaming on Netflix.

Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers

Story

The plot of Bardo is quite straightforward, but its execution is equal parts spectacular and bewildering. Silverio Gama is a famous journalist turned documentary filmmaker, about to release his latest project, ‘False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths’. He lives in LA with his wife Lucía and son Lorenzo.

Silverio is soon to become the first Latin American to receive the prestigious Alethea Award for journalistic ethics. However, due to rising tension between Mexico and America, he has to deal with constant media scrutiny from back home.

Furthermore, Lucía and Silverio still mourn the death of their first son, who passed a day after his birth. Also, the criticism from the Mexican media forces him to reminisce about his painful past and his country’s history.

Throughout the film, he spends most of his time processing reality in a distorted way to make sense of what he is feeling. Shockingly, the truth behind these reality-bending experiences is something more tragic.

Performances

Bardo is a Daniel Giménez Cacho show, who plays Silverio Gama. His performance in this mind-bending drama is a testament to his skill. Despite spectacular visuals and bewildering moments, Cacho manages to shine a light on the humane aspect of his character.

Silverio’s internal struggles are the leading force of this film and Cacho manages to make them stand out. In this bizarre narrative, he still manages to create a sense of relatability towards himself as a person struggling with his choices during a midlife crisis.

The supporting cast features Griselda Siciliani, Iker Sanchez Solano, Francisco Rubio, and Ximena Lamadrid, among others. They all put their best foot forward, but the plot doesn’t have much for them to do.

Positives

Bardo is a visual treat. The cinematography, music, color grading, and other technical aspects are top-notch. It is nothing short of a magnificent piece of art that is sure to leave you impressed.

Iñárritu manages to create a world where we see the protagonist go through an existential crisis in the wake of professional success. He uses the title of the film as an entry point into the plot, stating that these pieces of unexplained events are Silverio’s subtle attempts at discussing his own life.

He weaves Mexican history and tragic pasts with themes of family, love, identity, and growth, which is a delight to witness. Furthermore, one of the best aspects of this film is its ability to blur the lines between reality and imagination, but you may have to suspend your concept of reality a little too much.

Although the outlandish narrative initially feels awkward, it soon normalizes itself. The climax perfectly justifies the nature of the film, adding another feather to its cap.

Negatives

Even though Bardo excels in most departments, it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to presenting a cohesive narrative. The film skims past Silverio’s introspective thoughts in favor of visual set pieces.

The protagonist’s struggles are evident, but his intrusive thoughts need more dialogue instead of visually warped reality. A more in-depth analysis of Silverio’s character would have been welcome.

Due to this, the plot is excessively confusing. The editing without context doesn’t help, turning many moments into pure confusion. After the climax, you can see what the director was going for, but it failed to land.

Verdict

Overall, ‘Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths’ is another masterful feature film in Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s career. You may need a lot of patience to get through its complex storytelling, but it mostly pays off in the end.

Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths review: Iñárritu's visual spectacle is underwhelming 1

Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Date Created: 2022-12-17 12:26

Editor's Rating:
3

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