This is a post that is a repurposing of an old-school Mini-Review Round-Up post. As stated here I am essentially done with running multi-film review posts. Each film deserves its own review. Therefore I will repost, and at times add to, old reviews periodically. Enjoy!
Night Across the Street
It can be most difficult to assign a numerical value to a film told in magical realism, which means you can pay less heed to the number assigned and more heed to what is said about the film. The reason it becomes difficult is that there are two interpretations you’re trying to quantify: your intellectual interpretation and your visceral one. These two interpretations of a film with more literal forms of cinema are virtually intertwined. With magical realism, or any other subgenre that ventures outside the norms or representative realities, it’s harder to gauge.
One can definitely take a symbolist approach to this film and try to devise a schema wherein the entirety of this film encapsulated in a dream, a hallucination or fancy. However, what bears noting is that this is the kind of film wherein there will be varying interpretations of plot points, symbols, uses of color, place, abuse of time, and all will be right, wrong, and somewhere in between. The truth of the film and its meaning lies in the thematic basics of it, which is mainly that an old man on the brink of death is reflecting on his life and everything is coming back to him all at once, and is always there, and always will be.
That may sound cryptic but this is a film where, if you watch closely enough, you may even begin to doubt when certain events, like his impending death happened, or if they happened.
I cannot say it’s magical realism at its most accessible. It’s definitely one recommended for those with at least some grounding in it, as it is intentionally dizzying. However, for the most part the calculations in Ruiz’s final film add up. This film lends itself to re-viewing and analysis, and refuses to leave you disengaged and inactive, and will prompt debate, which are all great things for a film to do. It doesn’t do them impeccably, but it does them with a lot of style, great cinematography, effects, and a unique editing language that I picked up on as it went along.