Alejandro G Iñárritu‘s three-hour-long opus Bardo (False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths) received a warm reception at its Venice Film Festival world premiere on Thursday night. Six minutes of applause began inside the Sala Grande as the credits rolled, with attendees standing for the Oscar winning filmmaker for about four of those.
Written by Iñárritu and Nicolás Giacobone, Bardo is billed as a nostalgic comedy set against an epic personal journey. It chronicles the story of a renowned Mexican journalist and documentary filmmaker who returns home and works through an existential crisis as he grapples with his identity, familial relationships, the folly of his memories as well as the past of his country — all the while seeking answers in his past to reconcile who he is in the present.
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This has been called Iñárritu’s most personal work to date, and also marks a return to Mexico. The director hasn’t shot a film in his home country since 2000’s Amores Perros. Iñárritu said that September 1 (yesterday) also marked the anniversary of the day his family first left Mexico for Los Angeles over 20 years ago.
Bardo is an intricate journey of a film with beautifully shot imagery. Personally, I couldn’t help but think of Bob Fosse’s seminal 1979 All That Jazz, a similarly reflective and hallucinatory story about an artist — it went on to score nine Oscar nominations, converting four to wins.
Deadline’s Todd McCarthy formed his review of Bardo as a letter to the director, writing: “Manifestly, this is your 7½ to Fellini’s 8½, a semi-autobiographical extravaganza of a sort that a precious few elite directors ever have attempted.” Overall reaction has been mixed.
Bardo will next play at the San Sebastián Film Festival and Netflix will debut the movie in North American theaters on November 4 before it goes to streaming on December 16.
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