Argentinian film director and screenwriter Lisandro Alonso’s latest film is certainly related with what is known as the Slow Cinema Movement. Nothing wrong with a film that slowly reveals its story line as long as it has a narrative pathway that an audience can follow. Jauja (2014) seems completely plot less other than a 15 year old girl who runs away with a boy not much older than her self and her father’s attempts at tracking the couple. So far so good you may think but don’t be fooled it’s not an exciting road movie, if fact the word exciting has no place in this movie.
Lets look at it a little closer, father is Captain Gunner Dinesen (Viggo Mortensen) who when we first meet him appears to be an engineer who is in Patagonia in the late 19th century searching for a mythological land called Jauja. The only thing his group of engineers seen to be doing is digging a deep trench – maybe the mythological land of abundance and happiness is underground its never explained. Also in the same area is a company of soldiers who are looking for one Colonel Zuluaga who, we are told is leading a band of renegade’s dressed in women’s clothing. As I have said Dinesen goes after his daughter Ingeborg (Viilbjørk Malling Agger) but he would appear now to be in a soldiers uniform! He does nothing for quite a while other than get on and off his horse, discovers two mutilated bodies and has his horse, hat and rifle stolen from under his nose.
Until approximately 75 minutes into the film there is almost zero dialogue and no background noises to speak of and certainly no sign of a soundtrack! He meets a strange women (Ghita Noby) living in a cave with her dog but we never see his daughter again although I feel the director wanted us to believe that the woman was his daughter in old age? The last section of the film brings us to present day Denmark and we meet the same actress playing a different young lady – or is it?
Two be honest I found this film to be a complete mystery! The most irritating part of the movie is the excessive, and I mean excessive, use of the static camera and long take and because of the square format used to shot the movie we are not even allowed to enjoy the landscapes of either Argentina or the Danish estate in the last segment. Really a festival circuit film, it did win an award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival but distribution was a problem, which I’m not surprised. If you are a devotee of tedium and soporific cinema like Tabu (2012) or Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Life (2010) then this is the movie for you - every body else steer clear.