By Mónica Delgado

Lisandro Alonso has taken to a new level that old invention of the land of treasures and unimaginable happiness, the torture of conquistadores and travelers, whose myth was part of the Spanish “romancero” of the XVII century, and that under the influence of the daydream becomes something more than a desired country of Jauja. In some moment Viggo Mortensen exclaims, tired, and in the middle of the desert “This is country shit”, to express his nausea and repulsion of the desert and coast that embraces in a reckless way, in a revelation of its paradox, and that takes from him his most valued asset, as if it were a cruel barter between nature, visions and desires. This Jauja is another fantasy unveiled, destroyed, deranged. It’s a place full of ghostly indigenous people, the so called “cabezas de cocos” which must be exterminated, according to one of the characters, but also full of guide dogs and old ladies that dominate wisdom, and the immensity of the mountain summits. But the earth is way too powerful: it devours everything, as if it’s planning revenge beyond time.

In Jauja, Lisandro Alonso takes another sense of the narrative, far away from the dead times of his previous films, to take a rhythm and aesthetic that reminds of some stylistic resources of Manoel de Oliveira anachronic films, because this Jauja, can’t be more than a lost utopia somewhere in the world, in South America, between beasts and invisible and fearful killers. To show this, Alonso chooses the 4:3 format, precisely to adjust that idea of spatial compression, where images achieve to permeate the green of the field and its dryness but also the difficulty of the ascent through the stone mountains in a search that becomes thick and diluted.

Despite a more “flexible” narrative, Alonso doesn’t deliver an easy story, but a discourse from the otherness, from that other one that can’t see and that in a way appears in a tragic way in the loving relationship of two different characters, which show that that Jauja carries more of demon than a paradisiac fantasy. There’s also a carefully executed sound work, because despite what we see, there’s an outfield more auditory, of noises and far away voices. Something to point as well is the music by Mortensen himself, that appears in an essential moment of the film, and that arises as a reflection of the character interior in the middle of a starry (and somewhat surreal) night.

Yes, it’s surprising to see Alonso in this incursion in the terrain of the fantastic, and the qualities that have made him one of the more important filmmakers in Latin America is easily perceived. 

Un Certain Regard
Director: Lisandro Alonso
Cinematography: Timo Salminen
Production companies: L4, Perceval Pictures,  Mantarraya, Les Films du Worso, Kamoli Films, Massive , Fortuna Films