A critic takes a second look at Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s ‘Bardo’ — and is thankful he did so.
Review by John Powers
Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s “Bardo (The Dead)” is a visually spectacular, deeply moving, and thoroughly absorbing work of contemporary cinema—but, as a whole, a film that sometimes feels less than wholly engaging.
Iñárritu’s masterful style is best captured when the camera is in long tracking shots or even panning (most often at speeds that are slower than the speed of sound but still feel like a full 360 turns around some part of the film’s central set). These shots let Iñárritu focus on single individuals or on a particular visual image that then gradually expands across the screen as the camera begins to move beyond that one moment as it continues to pan toward the next set of individuals or scene. He uses these expansive shots to great effect to capture a sense of human loneliness, a sense of unceasing repetition, and a growing sense of being engulfed in the ever-present darkness of death.
But despite its visual virtuosity, “Bardo” is less a film than a work of intense, deeply affecting, and often deeply emotional artistry, which it shares with two other significant films in this year’s Oscar race: “The Revenant,” directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, and “The Lobster,” directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.
The Revenant (2016)
“The Revenant” looks and feels, quite obviously, like a traditional Hollywood film. What makes it different is the fact that it’s an Iñárritu film. The director’s style is distinctly Mexican, and his film also has a narrative structure that is decidedly not linear.
González Iñárritu’s story is based on a true