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Opus Zero


Stars: Willem Dafoe, Andres Almeida, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Carlos Aragon, Irene Azuela, Noe Hernandez, Brontis Jodorowsky, Valentina Manzini

Director: Daniel Spencer Graham

The title might suggest something out of science-fiction, but no such luck. Dafoe has a habit of sometimes starring in out-of-the-way projects but few are as inaccessible as this darkly-photographed, ponderous drama featuring him as a struggling composer arriving at a God-forsaken Mexican village in the middle of nowhere where his father has recently died.

Paul, who is trying to rewrite someone else's unfinished symphony, tours the local industries, chats to the priest and becomes vaguely involved in the fate of a missing woman (his father's mistress?) and her daughter, who seem to have disappeared. Alas, this narrative thread, if you could call it that, just peters out, like any others in the film.

The second half of the film concerns a film crew making a documentary, who tour the local industries and generally cover the same ground we've seen in part one, apart from shooting an elderly trio walking away across the hills, who suddenly disappear (it's obviously camera trickery). Their digital watches and mobile phones won't work there, so why does their cinecamera?

'I'm in the middle of someone else's narrative,' confesses Paul, 'and haven't found what I'm looking for.' And he never does, as the movie ends more or less where it began.

There's hardly even a vignette here, and frankly we could do with a few zombies to liven things up. Come to think of it, most of the cast, with the honourable exception of the star, act that way anyway, contributing stilted line readings throughout.

David Quinlan

Mexico/Germany/USA 2017. UK Distributor: New Wave Films. Colour by Colorspace.
84 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 06 Aug 2019