20 May 2003 | redfeather60
An at first perplexing, yet ultimately rewarding film...
Barbet Schroeder's Our Lady of the Assassins is a perplexing film. Yet, it is ultimately rewarding in ways that most films aren't.
Shot in high definition digital video, the film has an immediacy to it that cannot be simulated by film. At first, the immediacy seems to cheapen the look and one wonders what Schroeder was thinking when he decided to undertake this format. Yet as the complexity of the story progresses, we seem to be "taken in" by the video's hypnotic effect and we realize that we are viewing a medium with its own look, feel and characteristics and we accept it.
About an older man who befriends and enters into a relationship with a young ex-gang member, the story takes a while to unfold. In the beginning it seems all but pointless, yet within the hour, we are caught up in a film of overwhelming depth and emotional power. Schroeder deserves tremendous credit for having the courage to make a movie in which the main character openly denounces the church and where themes of political corruption and anarchy in a real world setting actually exist.
Most disturbing is that the themes in this movie ring true with an authenticity that cannot be challenged. We are simultaneously horrified yet held captive by a reality which we don't want to believe exists but that we know already does, not only in Colombia, where the film is set, but elsewhere as well. Schroeder is a master here of making the "city" of Medellin just as much a character as the protagonists. He charges the environment with an electricity that seems to pervade the screen and crawl into our psyches.
Unfortunately it is the medium itself which may prevent Our Lady of the Assassins from becoming a commercial success or as being taken seriously by a lot of people. But film purists and those who enjoyed the gritty realism of similar films like Pixote and Santa Sangre, should love this one.