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Film Review: Battle in Heaven

Posted on the 18 April 2013 by Donnambr @_mrs_b

About Battle in Heaven (2005)Battle in HeavenControversial and sexually explicit Mexican drama from director Carlos Reygadas. Downtrodden couple Marcos (Marcos Hernandez) and his wife (Bertha Ruiz) decide to kidnap a baby for the ransom money, but when the kidnap goes badly wrong and the baby dies, Marcos is plagued by guilt. In his search for relief, he meets the troubled Ana (Anapola Mushkadiz), the daughter of the powerful general for whom Marcos works as a driver, and who prostitutes herself for her own pleasure. As their two lives intertwine, Marcos finds himself involved in a religious procession in honor of the Lady of Guadalupe, where a moment of shocking violence offers him a chance at redemption.

 

Starring: Marcos Hernández, Anapola Mushkadiz, Bertha Ruiz, Rosalinda Ramirez, Brenda Angulo

Directed by: Carlos Reygadas

Runtime: 98 minutes

Studio: Mantarraya

 

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Review:  Battle in Heaven

Carlos Reygadas’ Battle in Heaven is the story of Marcos (Marcos Hernandez) who is a driver for the General. At the outset, Marcos and his wife (Bertha Ruiz) are selling clocks and sweets in a subway and coming to terms with the death of a baby they have kidnapped with the intention of returning to its mother for a ransom. Marcos spends the film lost, haunted by the moral and legal implications of this terrible act. He turns to the General’s daughter Ana (Anapola Mushkadiz) to confess his sins but will Marcos turn himself into the police or will he find a way to live with what he has done?

Battle in Heaven is very controversial, the opening and final scenes depict Ana performing oral sex on Marcos with nothing left to the imagination. What relevance this has is not clear until the end of the film. When Marcos picks Ana up from the airport she can tell something is wrong with her father’s driver and she tries to distract him by having Marcos drive to the boutique where she sometimes works as a prostitute. Finding no desire for the prostitutes there, Marcos turns to Ana for comfort and confesses about the kidnap and death of the child. Ana beseeches Marcos to turn himself into the police but he is unsure.

 

The graphic sex scenes in Battle in Heaven inevitably overshadow the whole narrative and are clearly there to push the boundaries. The story in itself is quite thin on substance. The kidnapping and death of the child is referred to by Marcos and his wife but we don’t see them take the child or learn how the child has come to die. Marcos is clearly devastated by what he and his wife have done and when comfort from Ana isn’t enough to save him he turns to religion and a pilgrimage in honor of the Lady of Guadalupe to try and find salvation. The conclusion is uncertain and taking us back to the oral sex scene before the end credits is puzzling to say the least.

 

Battle in Heaven has some ingredients for a tragic and tense drama but the narrative sadly doesn’t live up to the promise of the synopsis. The graphic sex scenes have earned the film some notoriety but they have little if any purpose to the story, nor will these moments appeal to a wide audience given some of the content. By no means a bad film, Battle in Heaven sadly comes across as very confused, lost between trying to be controversial and trying to address some serious issues such as religion, justice and morality.

Verdict: 2/5

(Film source: reviewer’s own copy)

Film Review: Battle in Heaven | Thank you for reading Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dave

 


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