By José Sarmiento-Hinojosa
Radical intimacy. In some way, I’ve found difficult to find another term that defines the experience I had watching José Luis Torres Leiva’s latest film, Vendrá la Muerte y Tendrá tus Ojos (Death Will Come and Shall Have your Eyes, 2019). The narrative, the plot that drives the whole film is seemingly simple: the story of a couple (sublime performances by Amparo Noguera and Julieta Figueroa) that strive through the illness of one of them, who refuses to continue treatment and is waiting for her time to come.
Little information is given through this process, and in that lies the main talent of Torres Leiva: let the images speak for themselves. It’s such a delicate task many have stumbled upon over and over again when portraying the process of death (infinity of overemotional, over dramatic films) and that only some people -like Allan King, Frederick Wiseman or Stephen Dwoskin-, who approached the subject through the means of documentary filmmaking, have been able to achieve; to reveal the true intimacy of this rite of passage to the next stage of life.
However, in the realm of fiction, this year there’s few contenders for Torres Leiva’s film: the whole process of this slow-paced, intimate, difficult process, is portrayed with an incredible care for time, for slow pacing the moments nearing death, the prolonged waiting that expands time into infinity while a loved one slowly drifts away beyond our world. Noguera and Figueroa characters’ exchanges, gazes, desperation, infinite caring, tenderness, love, are all subtly touched because of this necessity of riding the dramatic tension with such a skill that not one moment feels over acted, over the top. And for that we’re most grateful.
Another dimension of the film dwells among the stories told by the couple. Radical intimacy, yet again, stories that speak something about the relationship we witness: of freedom of love, of true caring, of generations; allegories or metaphors for different aspects of the couple’s life, for the whole affair we’re witnessing. Words are carefully picked, like in these particular moments it was the time for the narrated word that takes over, the necessity to tell a story in order to establish certain indications, to shed some light to it all.
Vendra la muerte y tendrá tus ojos lingers long after the first watch, lingers as a testimony of death not just of a time of despair and mourning, but also as a time to celebrate life, something magnificently portrayed in the very last scene of the film. A wonderful closer for an outstanding feature.
Voices Main Program
Original title: Vendrá la Muerte y Tendrá tus Ojos
Director, writer: José Luis Torres Leiva
Producer: Catalina Vergara, Paulo Roberto de Carvalho, Constanza Sanz Palacios
Cast: Amparo Noguera, Julieta Figueroa
Cinematography: Cristian Soto
Editor: Andrea Chignoli, José Luis Torres Leiva
Production Design: Catalina Devia
Sound Design: Claudio Vargas
Chile, Germany, Argentina