Some may find it tedious, but Escalante’s modest feature debut showcases the cinema of the mundane—it portrays the quiet, unexciting daily life of a couple, and through it, reveals what is psychologically tormenting and unsaid.
Dir. Amat Escalante
2005 | Mexico | Drama | 87 mins | 2.35:1 | Spanish
Not rated – likely to be R21 for graphic sexuality and nudity
Cast: Cirilo Recio Davila, Laura Saldana Quintero, Claudia Orozco
Plot: Diego’s job is counting people as they enter a large government building. After work, he and his wife Blanca lie on the couch, watch soap operas, or make love on the kitchen table. Their relationship is based on having sex, watching TV, and fighting, until one day their routine is interrupted.
Awards: Won FIPRESCI Prize – Un Certain Regard & Nom. for Camera d’Or (Cannes)
Subject Matter: Moderate – Mundanity; Husband and Wife
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Audience Type: General Arthouse
This will be more of a curiosity for those who are already acquainted with the films of Amat Escalante or with an interest in contemporary Mexican cinema.
It isn’t the best place to be introduced to either, though if you can appreciate the cinema of the mundane where nothing much happens, but which in turn becomes revealing, then you could give Blood a try.
It requires a lot of patience as the film centers on a couple, whose unexciting daily life is captured without fanfare. They wake up, go to work, return home, make dinner, watch TV, and go back to sleep. Occasionally, they would have sex on the kitchen table, which Escalante shows graphically in one scene.
Blood depicts this raw, mechanical existence without sentiment, and therefore, without clear visual cues of emotions from the characters. It can be a tedious experience for the uninitiated. If this had been shot in the 1.33:1 or 1.66:1 aspect ratio instead of 2.35:1 widescreen, it would have felt more purposeful.
“I haven’t seen anybody around here, but if I see her, I’ll tell her you’re looking for her.”
Although I don’t find it to be a particularly strong work, there is something enigmatic about how doggedly persistent it is in presenting this grim picture of a couple with little in the way of romance or optimism.
Something happens, however, that jolts one of the characters awake, building up to an epilogue that may be best described as a muted transcendence.
The title ‘Blood’ is a misnomer—there is no violence, except for the violence of psychological torment and the unsaid. Though it could very well refer to blood relations, one that is stretched vulnerably thin, as a husband confronts for the first time in his life what it means to love a person, with or without conditions.