Dancing with Death Through Space and Time
In Locarno for the last two years with a film in the Concorso internazionale (Los mejores temas) and as a juror for the Cineasti del presente comepetition, Nicolás Pereda isn’t a filmmaker that one would think of as a director for hire. Though he came on board this project with a conventional screenplay already written, Pereda managed to turn Los ausentes (The Absent) into a mesmerizing personal work that speaks to his own filmmaking themes and aesthetic concerns, and, in moving in a more minimalist direction, with long, gorgeously shot, Tarkovsky-like sequences, even can be said to heighten them. What little plot remains in this holistic piece concerns an impoverished man in his mid-seventies, alone in the world, who loses his property, located near the beach in the south of Mexico.
As death approaches, he begins to lose his connection to the world as well as his mind, and on what might be his deliberate final journey, visions of the past appear in the form of his earlier self, played by Pereda mainstay Gabino Rodríguez. Along with a focused attention on the place his protagonist is about to lose, Pereda notes that one of his concerns in this patient film was filming the man’s body as the receptacle of space and time: the same could be said of the relationship of the film to the viewer.Mark Peranson