Monday, 14 October 2013

REVIEW - NORTE, THE END OF HISTORY


Now. There is nothing other than now. The present. The culmination of all that has been before. The end of history. The end of all that has been and the beginning of all that is. Even after all that has been, we remain a callous, naive species, burdened by intelligence, tempted by desire. Do we obey our impulses, as they are innate, instinctive? Or do we obey our intelligence, a conscience that is equally innate, that challenges our impulses with full right and reason? Are they not both natural features of the human being? Can we find a way in which to amalgamate both our impulsive desire and our intelligent reason, or is that what is most unnatural? These questions are embedded deep within Lav Diaz's Norte, the End of History, yet they are primarily for our benefit, not the film's characters'. You'll barely notice the tricks, for that it what they are, Diaz employs to leave such imprints on you; what a gift, to be so actively bestowed something so direct and so personal by a work or art! He acts contrary to convention, acquiring our interest and empathy not with realism but with a lack thereof. A brief Carlos Reygadas-esque moment near the end may seem bizarre, but it's just another tool, another technique, perfectly in line with the rest of the film, that Diaz uses to make his provocative, possibly even biased points. What gumption he has, though understandably so. We are engaged, then lulled, then shaken by the film's structure, and if Diaz's staging of some more shocking incidents in the latter half is brazenly flashy, it's nevertheless an honour to behold. Several scenes are set as though we have stumbled in upon a familiar story, perhaps moments or perhaps months late, gradually ascertaining information second, atmosphere first. We're thrust into the now, into the end of all that history. Cast performances are exemplary, and crew work exceptionally sensitive and artful.