BARDO, FALSE CHRONICLE OF A HANDFUL OF TRUTHS is directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu. The film stars Daniel Gimenez Cacho and Griselda Siciliani.
Silverio is a known Mexican journalist and documentarian. A husband and father, he regularly finds himself conflicted with how he views the world, and in his relationship with his family. Constantly fluctuating between fantasy and reality, he looks to the past and the future through personal trials and tribulations as he prepares to receive an award for his work as a filmmaker.
I’ve never quite seem a film like BARDO before. Unfortunately, I mean that in both good and bad ways. All the makings and pieces necessary for a great film are here, but said pieces never quite come together. Part character study of a documentarian family man, part Fellini-esque surreal wonderworld, the two extremes seem to work against each other more than they work together. I won’t deny the movie’s beautiful cinematography and art film approach, but more casual moviegoers will be bored by the overlong scenes and inexcusably long running time.
Daniel Gimenez Cacho is one place the movie does deserve some praise. Looking like the long-lost love child of Tracii Guns and Harry Dean Stanton, he’s this movie’s most interesting element, whether it’s his connection with his family or surreal outlook to the outside world (and by surreal, I mean pretty damn strange – there’s no movie quite like this one). Here we see a man’s reality and his getting out of touch with it on a pretty regular basis. Also impressive is his wife in the film, portrayed by Griselda Siciliani, with whom he shares a truly unique relationship.
The surreal Fellini-esque environments and situations make this something that’s a feast for the eyes on more than a few occasions. What you see unfold truly must be seen to be believed; words can’t quite do the movie’s visuals justice. The look of BARDO makes for some scenes that don’t look or feel like any other feature film.
Sadly, the movie seems torn between what it wants to be. A character study of a documentary filmmaker, his personal family life, and his view of the American and Mexican experiences he’s both been a part of could’ve made for a great film. But BARDO constantly tries to make each scene stranger and more surreal than the last, to the point that the lines between reality and surrealism are regularly blurred, likely deliberately so. The problem is that this creates a film mainstream moviegoers will want nothing to do with, further hindered by a running time that’s about an hour too long. Individual scenes drag on endlessly, which makes me wonder if a good third or fourth of the content that unfolds on screen would’ve been better left on the cutting room floor.
BARDO is a triumph in several areas but falls flat in others. Fellini-esque surrealism is seldom seen in film these days, and while BARDO resurrects it in a big way, it’s at odds with a deeper and more meaningful character-driven story. Did I mention it’s almost three hours long? As much as I like several elements of this movie, its whole “art film” approach isn’t likely to appeal to anyone but the most die-hard of movie buffs. Casual moviegoers should take their time and business elsewhere.