Our Time, starring, written, and directed by Carlos Reygadas, is a contemplative new Mexican epic melodrama. The film follows a married couple living on a ranch on the Mexican countryside as their lives are torn apart with the arrival of a new American horse trainer, stirring up trouble in the marriage.
The elements of the story are quite interesting, although they sadly never come together into a whole that is particularly satisfying or effective. There are moments of brilliance throughout, which is why it is so disappointing that the movie as a whole isn’t better. Reygadas should have explored a few of the subplots with a greater level of detail and intricacy rather than having multiple tangents that are left open.
You would think that the relationship between husband and wife Esther and Juan would take center stage, but the film focuses mostly on their individual lives. Even though the love triangle is heavily-trodden ground by this point, Reygadas is obviously a talented enough filmmaker for that archetype to be compelling. Eventually, this does become the major conflict in the movie, but not until we explore multiple other narrative threads first.
One of the biggest problems with this film is that it is far too long. The movie clocks in at a daunting two hours and fifty-seven minutes. There really is no reason for a movie like this to be that long. The story is thin and spread out, with the focus instead on the emotions and themes which could have been conveyed just as easily in two hours. Thankfully, the film isn’t boring, so it isn’t painful to sit through that long of a movie, but it doesn’t exactly earn its runtime either.
The main reason that the film is mostly compelling is Reygadas’s excellent character work. The two leads are very compelling and balanced quite well. These characters aren’t particularly good people, but Reygadas is nonetheless able to make them somewhat likable because he paints them as humans rather than monsters because of their flaws.
Reygadas and Natalia López have very natural chemistry together, and it’s no wonder because the two are married in real life. It is pretty surprising that they decided to work opposite each other in a movie about a failing marriage, but they pull off the dynamic quite convincingly. López does a particularly good job, perhaps because her scenes are the most emotional.
The film also looks absolutely phenomenal. The cinematography is beautiful, making wonderful use of the Mexican countryside and the natural light of the sun. Some of the scenes set on the ranch are shot so well that you may find yourself distracted from the story by the beauty of what you see on screen.
Our Time does feel a bit pretentious and overly long at times, but it is still interesting and well-shot enough to be worth watching. That said, this is certainly aimed more at art house crowds than mainstream audiences.
Our Time is now playing in theaters.