Dir.: Emiliano Rocha Minter | Cast: Noe Hernandez, Maria Evoli, Diego Gamaliel, Gabino Rodriguez; Mexico/France 2016, 79min.
Director/writer Emiliano Rocha Minter has certainly learnt a great deal from producer Carlos Reygadas (Silent Light): his debut feature is a darkly subversive and enigmatic sexual tour-de-force with shades of Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room and even fellow Mexican Amat Escalante’s The Untamed. Teenage siblings Fauna (Evoli) and Lucio (Gamaliel) looking for a place to stay in post-apocalyptic Mexico City find refuge with the rather demonic Mariano (Hernandez), who lives in a derelict and dark cellar apartment. He offers them drinks laced with mind-enhances, and encourages them to build a womb-structure from wood and masking tape. Then, out of the blue, Mariano makes the siblings sleep which each other, much against Lucio’s. Watching and masturbating, Mariano suddenly dies. The intercourse awakens Fauna’s sexuality, but her brother wants nothing to do with it. Turned on by it all, Fauna has sex with Mariano’s body. Somehow, a Mexican soldier finds his way into the place and is killed by the siblings, to the tune of the National anthem of Mexico. But the main theme of the film is illicit sex and, Fauna soon finds a willing female partner, passing her over to her brother and writhing in ecstasy whilst watching the two. As a grand finale, Minter serves up a phenomenal sex orgy, leaving us in no doubt that he is the Wilhelm Reich of filmmaking.
Shame then that this short version of the narrative fails to give Minter’s films the credit deserves, it is an illuminating exploration of sexuality serving as a coda to the nuclear family, which is finally destroyed by the chaos brought from the outside. There are echo’s of Bataille; and certainly Gaspar Noé, but Minter also captures a certain opaque quality which is very much his own style: the roving camera of DoP Yollitl Gomez Alvarado roams around 360 degrees finding new angles to explore the escalating sexual frenzy. Switching from almost colourless black and white to luminous primary colours, Minter develops a permanently changing environment where Fauna staggers wildly like a huntress in search of pray. Bach’s harpsichord concerto has never been heard in a less peaceful place; and exclamations like “Neither the Sun, nor Death can be looked at steadily” suddenly make sense in this context. Minter somehow pulls it off: WE ARE THE FLESH is certainly one of the most innovative and original debuts of recent years. AS
COMES TO SHUDDER ON 20 APRIL 2017 | THE FILM HAS BEEN BANNED BY OTHER STREAMING PLATFORMS IN THE UK