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Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths Netflix Movie Review

Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths [Bardo, falsa crónica de unas cuantas verdades] (2022)

Watch Bardo on Netflix
Written by: Alejandro G. Iñárritu & Nicolás Giacobone
Directed by: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Starring: Daniel Giménez Cacho, Griselda Siciliani, Ximena Lamadrid
Rated: R
Watch the trailer

An acclaimed journalist-turned-documentarian goes on an introspective journey to reconcile with the past, the present, and his Mexican identity.

It’s a surreal movie that’s very indulgent. There are many ideas thrown into this, and because of that it lacks focus. We eventually get an answer as to why this movie abandons logic and physics, but by then it doesn’t really matter. This is a movie where I feel like I need to know more about Iñárritu, as I have to guess this movie is his veiled commentary about critics, journalists, and more. This movie only exists because of Iñárritu’s fame. The core of his statement is how he lives between American and Mexico and neither country accepts him, but even this idea is lost with everything else.
Skip it.

I first discovered Iñárritu through Birdman and his follow up The Revenant, though he’s been directing for much longer than that. I do think this movie would benefit from a second watch once you understand what’s going on, but I have no intention of watching it again. 

From the start, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing as things frequently defy physics. In the opening scene we see the shadow of a man leaping incredible distances in the desert, and then a baby that doesn’t like this world and crawls back into the womb. This is one of those movies that’s just weird and surreal. With that, will this have a point?

Daniel Giménez Cacho plays Silverio

Throughout the movie I wondered if what we see serves the story. Silverio (Daniel Giménez Cacho) meets with an ambassador. When they mention the Mexican-American War, Silverio sees soldiers from that war running through the house. No one else can see it. Do his thoughts just manifest?  At least for that scene, part of it is that Silverio feels like he doesn’t have a home. Americans see him as Mexican. Mexicans see him as too American for spending so much time there. This is an idea that Silverio struggles with throughout the movie. There is a dichotomy between how he talks about Mexico and the faults he perceives to Mexicans with how he talks about how great Mexico is to Americans.

This certainly seems like a movie that only an established director can make. While weird movies are frequently made, most of them seem to have a point. A new director wouldn’t get a chance to make a movie like this, and that’s the reason I take issue with it. This isn’t made for an audience, this was made because a director could. Silverio appears to be a stand-in for Iñárritu. This really seems like a movie that allows him to respond to his critics. When Silverio does an interview for his documentary, the questions are strangely personal. Is this movie a way for Iñárritu to make his point?

A lot of this movie seems to be Silverio’s thoughts manifested in a surreal dream form. There’s something to this movie, but it doesn’t provide a way in or offer us an explanation as to how to view it. Yes, it’s weird and we’re in his imagination, but I want more understanding. This is purposefully dense and unnecessarily complicated just in the name of being artistic. It’s difficulty is in the fact that I don’t think audiences are meant to grasp the references. I’m guessing this is something personal to Iñárritu. That just doesn’t do me much good. The movie expects you to intuit a fair amount, and while I think I grasp what this is saying, ultimately what does it matter? I spent the movie trying to understand and grasp at a concept, instead of enjoying what could have been a fun adventure or a fundamental struggle to find ‘home.’

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