We Are The Flesh (Tenemos Le Carne) Dir. Emiliano Rocha Minter, Mexico/France, 79 mins
Having seen the trailer for this independent Mexican production some time back, I was very curious to get around to watching it. Even better, I was able to go and see this one at QUAD in my home town of Derby on the big screen to get the full impact of this artistic, psychedelic and disturbing production. Mexican cinema is something I have always enjoyed a great deal, so I was certainly approaching this one with high expectations. Honestly, after watching the trailer I couldn't really have told you what it was all about, and I must admit I can still say the same having watched the movie.
So, We Are The Flesh follows Mariano, who lives alone in a post-apocalyptic wasteland and scrapes by for food and drink by swapping things he can make with some unseen, underground individuals whom he trades with via a grate in the floor. Into this scene enter a brother and sister looking for some safety from whatever unnamed trouble lies outside – we never really see anything of the outside world, focusing in on the abandoned warehouse that the three of them make home. However the cost of food and a roof over their head is the lascivious nature and inexecrably strange outlook of their host and soon to be mentor Mariano. In this lead role Noe Hernandez is extraordinary, totally committed to the insanity of his protagonist – it's a role I doubt that many actors could have delivered so well.
What follows is... well... I honestly struggle for words to describe it. On one level I'm fairly sure it's a tale of rebirth, although being spat out of a huge cardboard womb and dreaming of a pregnant ten year old are pretty odd ways to represent it. Mariano certainly goes through this process and, if my interpretation of the movie is correct, then so do the brother and sister too. Then there's also the overt sexual element to the story – a lot of the imagery is extremely explicit, to the point of pornographic, and includes some graphic incest and a wee dabble of necrophilia to boot. There's also a smattering of body fluids, murder, masturbation and an ending so bizarre I totally struggle for words. I mean absolutely surreal, and something that will have you pondering aplenty on finishing up.
Now, I don't mind complex, or experimental, or multi-layered. But part of me thinks this one didn't quite give you enough to go on. Maybe a second watch would help – time will tell whether I decide to expend the time and energy to make that happen. There's also a few issues with pacing, and the characterisation of the younger characters in the movie are a bit light. Ultimately I can't help but feels there's a bit of style over substance here – yes, it's nice style, and it's certainly both interesting and different, but what is there truly laying at the heart of this movie? The startling visuals will probably be enough to keep you in your seat, but you might end up feeling a little short-changed when you come to really consider just what it was all about.
RATING: 6/10. A movie I was certainly ready to love, but couldn't quite bring myself to do. Certainly plenty of Film Gutter favourites crammed into the relatively short running time here, and a disturbing and powerful performance from Noe Hernandez in the role of Mariano, but none of that is quite enough to save this one from feeling a little too clever for its own good. It's a bizarre cinemascape for sure, and worth a watch, but unlikely to go down as an extreme horror classic.