I want credit for lasting 161 minutes with Carlos Reygadas‘ Our Time. Yes, I missed the last 13 minutes but it’s not a problem, trust me. It’s one of those interesting, real but vaguely un-real art films that make you feel glad you’ve seen the good parts, if not altogether nourished by the whole.
It’s also one of those pain-in-the-ass adult relationship films that you know will never end in a just-right way. It just goes on and on and on and on. But it’s definitely “good” for the portions that turn your head around.
It will irritate you, try your patience, make you exhale loudly and throw up your hands. But at the end of the day you’ll be half-grateful you saw it (or at least saw as much as you could endure).
If Our Time had ended at 100 minutes, I would have been fine with that. 120 minutes would have been pushing it, but I could’ve handled it. 150 minutes would have been too much. But 174 minutes? That’s why I bailed at 161.
During the last 35 or 40 minutes (or rather the last 35 or 40 that I saw) there were five or six scenes that could have worked as a servicable finale. In particular there’s a moment when the lead fellow, Juan (played by Reygadas, who also directed and wrote), breaks down while visiting a friend dying of cancer. He’s not crying about the friend but the end of his marriage, or more precisely the end of his ability (and his wife’s ability) to amiably or constructively accept the terms of an open marriage. The weeping-at-the-deathbed ending would’ve been perfect.
Juan and Esther (Natalia Lopez, a renowned film editor and Reyadas’ real-life wife) run a bull ranch in the rugged, mostly treeless Mexican countryside (near the town of Tlaxcala, about an hour east of Mexico City).
And it’s a parched, somewhat muddy property, let me tell you. It ain’t Switzerland or southern Austria in the springtime, I can tell you that. “Later”, I was muttering to myself. Especially after a scene in which a “wild” bull gores a donkey and spills his intestines all over the ground. Yeah, it’s a metaphor but still.
Esther is in charge of running the day-to-day while Juan, a famous poet, raises and selects the horned beasts. They have some kids, and a no-secrets open marriage.
The problem is that Esther has embarked upon a secretive affair with a bearded, laid-back, bordering-on-fat horse trainer named Phil (Phil Burgers), and Juan starts freaking about her lack of openness and general sneaking around, which tells him it isn’t just a recreational affair but something a bit more than that.
I’ll tell you what Our Time left me with. It left me with an idea that if you’re going to cat around outside the bonds of marriage (which I wouldn’t recommend by the way), old-fashioned cheating is the way to go. Lie your ass off, invent elaborate fictions and try to pull the wool over your significant other’s eyes the way all those suburban John Updike characters attempted back in the ’60s.
Cheaters get busted sooner or later anyway and it all comes out in the wash so you might as well enjoy the hot sex while it lasts. There’s nothing like betraying your wife or husband the old-fashioned way.
My point is that anything is better than the jaded terms of an “open” marriage. Remember Bergman’s Scenes From A Marriage? Nothing but misery and rage.