EN LA LUZ DEL SOL BRILLANTE

a film by Jesús Torres Torres

MEXICO / 2008 / 20 MIN / 35MM, COLOR / SPANISH (WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

Bernardo faces a duel against Antonio. Later, in the middle of the desert, he meets  Sebastian, a young man who needs his help. What at first appears to be an uneventful encounter gradually turns into something far more intense, when they spend a day and a night together.

REVIEW

I first got a chance to see En La Luz Del Sol Brillante (In The Light of the Shining Sun) in Mexico, at the 2008 Morelia International Film festival. From the synopsis in the catalogue, I remember thinking that this homoerotic short would share similarities with Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain. I was completely wrong. While Lee sets out to make a Hollywood story about two cowboys who fall in love, Mexican filmmaker, Jesus Torres Torres, creates an indelible experience that feels more like one of Franz Kafka’s confounding parables.

In a manner similar to Juan Rulfo’s seminal novella Pedro Paramo, En La Luz Del Sol Brillante introduces us to a teenage boy who undergoes a mysterious journey through the Mexican wilderness, in search of his absent father. Like Pedro Paramo,En La Luz Del Sol Brillante offers a compressed narrative and a minimalist style that flirts with the dream-like and seems to issue from a deep and mysterious place.

While operating within the Western genre, En La Luz Del Sol Brillante also plays as a psychosexual chamber piece, which takes place in a mythical realm. In order to create this sense of otherness, like Fassbinder before him, Torres deliberately abandons naturalistic performances for a more stylized approach. He lingers on the characters’ languorous words and gestures, and makes it a point to show us the landscapes that envelop them. Torres also pays meticulous attention to small, subtle details, endowing guns, gloves, and holsters with a fetishistic charge. These objects clearly serve as ceremonial props in an erotic rite of passage. They also bind the characters inexorably to the past. This relationship to the past is reinforced by the film’s circular structure, which seems to suggest that fate itself has a perverse imagination. Here, we find two characters caught up in a dark feverish dream, which in earthly terms also seems to point to a kind of inescapable cultural and psychological trap.

Perhaps what I find most compelling of all is Torres’ attempt to create a work that can be experienced and understood on multiple levels. Never telling you directly what you should think or feel, Torres allows a certain elusive meaning to linger in the film’s peculiar silences and pregnant pauses. By favoring atmosphere over plot development En La Luz Del Sol Brillante offers us a lasting experience that extends far beyond the story itself.