A critic takes a second look at Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s ‘Bardo’ — and is thankful he did. The film opens at Sundance in the week of January 20, 2016, and comes to theaters on February 24 under the title “Bardo.” It was co-written by Juan Antonio Bayona and the director with the screenplay by Robert Longo, after a long battle with the actor who plays the titular character, Javier Bardem.
The director has made a career out of challenging the audience with his films. He is at once so much a film-maker that he can be a critic, and so much a writer that he can be a fan. So it’s fitting that he chose to introduce us to Bardo, a hero who transcends genres. The first of his films to be given a serious critical re-evaluation, “Bardo” is a masterpiece of the modern Mexican art form.
The film is set in a Mexican village in the late 1980s, and follows a young man, Bardo (Gerardo Celázarsen), who returns from Paris to find his parents have been murdered (for a woman’s infidelity). Now a young man haunted by images of his dead parents, the only person to stop Bardo’s descent into madness, Nuria (Natalia Lafourcade), has fallen in love with him. With the help of a young woman (Paz Vega), Bardo flees the village, and Nuria becomes his guide to his search for what he could not find in his past.
While the film has often seemed at odds with its era, it remains one of the most compelling horror films of our time because it takes its time and uses it as an opportunity to let its characters grow. It’s the story of a woman finding a man she is drawn to, but he is more than the man she has ever seen before.
That’s not to say Bardo’s journey is easy. It’s a journey of self-discovery, grief and love, and it unfolds in a way that would make any true romantic appreciate the power of a modern horror film. A film that asks a lot of the audience to let go of the past and not worry so