Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: Sueno en Otro Idioma
Mexico/Netherlands, 2017. Revolver Amsterdam, Agencia SHA, Alebrije Cine y Video, Cinema Maquina, Eficine, Estudios Churubusco Azteca S.A., Fondo para la Producción Cinematográfica de Calidad. Screenplay by Carlos Contreras. Cinematography by Tonatiuh Martinez. Produced by Luis Albores, Erika Avila, Monica Lozano, Eamon O’Farrill, Dijana Olcay-Hot, Raymond van der Kaaij. Music by Andres Sanchez. Production Design by Barbara Enriquez. Costume Design by Gabriela Fernandez. Film Editing by Jorge Macaya.
A mesmerizing experience that casts a spell from its opening shot. Martin, a Mexico City university student studying linguistics, heads to a rural village looking to speak to the last two living people known to communicate in Zikril, a fictional language created for this film that represents the many indigenous cultures lost to Spanish colonialism. The woman who hosts Martin informs him that she and her friend Isauro are not the only speakers of Zikril, there’s actually a man named Evaristo who speaks it but refuses to participate in the project because of a long standing romantic feud with Isauro. What our hero discovers as he spends many long days and even longer, sexier nights in this magical place, where the spirit world is a reality, is a complicated and moving story of love made and love denied that goes beyond just data and research. Excellent acting and beautiful photography highlight a tale that tells of the destruction of a culture and, in this case, the dissolution of human connection that has resulted from the greed of conquerors and the oppressive religion they brought with them. The film’s only niggling flaw is one scene in its conclusion, one whose contrasting lightness feels like a response to preview-screening comment cards and not a relief from the drama preceding it, but even with this minor detraction you will not shake this one off for a while, and that’s a good thing.