For a director known for his slow, ruminative, nearly wordless features starring amateur actors, Jauja by Argentine filmmaker Lisandro Alonso may seem like a move (if ever so slight) toward the mainstream. Working for the first time with well-known professional actors (Viggo Mortensen in the central role of Captain Dinesen, speaking Danish) and in the construct of a late-1800s period piece set in the Patagonian desert, Alonso creates a film that has been defined by some as a “Western.” Yet anyone expecting The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is likely to be sorely disappointed. Jauja seems more in line with Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff (2010), a film which attempted to portray the West as not a place of surprise and suspense but of trance-inducing monotony. While touching on themes of colonialism, Jauja’s main focus is the internal workings of a person experiencing loss, reflected in the wide-open landscape, which is as much a character in the film as Dinesen.
dir. Lisandro Alonso
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