This film was surly something. The opening and closing scene of this film insures that it would had never been play at a multi-plex near you. Battle in Heaven is a curious piece by Mexican director Carlos Reygadas. Sexually explicit, but largely unerotic, Reygadas explores the human body with a stark realism that isn't always easy on the eye and these actors are real people,...... and it shows.
In this story we have Marco (Marcos Hernandez) who has been a chauffeur for a General of the Army for fifteen years. His unnamed wife (Bertha Ruiz) hawks alarm clocks and pastry in a metro station. Both are middle-aged, unattractive, and overweight, the antithesis of Hollywood glamor. The film is framed by sexual acts, and explicitly realistic Dumont-like sex is sprinkled throughout, apparently designed to tweak our level of comfort rather than turn us on. As part of his job, Marcos chauffeurs the elite General's rebellious young daughter Ana (Anapola Mushkadiz) around town and he is the only one who knows about her secret life, turning tricks in a brothel. To clear the air and perhaps to receive some of her favors, Marcos admits to her that he and his wife kidnapped the baby of a friend and that the baby died accidentally.
Transcending racial taboos and class differences, Ana agrees to have sex with her driver but tells him to turn himself in to the police. Persuaded by his wife, however, he decides to wait until after the procession of Catholics to the shrine of the Lady of Guadeloupe.
Reygadas challenges our visual ideals about screen sex by zooming in on Marcos's flabby physique and his wife's pimpled, varicose veined flesh. There's no getting around the fact that neither of them were at the front of the queue when good looks were given out, and in many respects Reygadas has done something unique here with the sex scenes. But the end result of his experimentation serves as a distraction from the principle story and only adds to the alienation we're already beginning to feel towards his expressionless, unfathomable characters. They're totally lifeless and did not even engage me at all. I found myself wondering how much time had passed and wishing for shots to complete rather than watching the same shot for the next ten to fifteen seconds. A feeling I felt once before with The House of Mirth.
The music was sort of interesting and I read that the director spent 7 weeks just on the sound. My guess, two weeks on the rest of the film. Personally this film could of been told in under thirty minutes. The rest comprises of long, slow moving shots of people walking, standing, corridors, buildings, scenery, and non too erotic sex. Now when I talk about slow shots, I am talking about a five to ten second slow pan showing a character turn their head one way, followed by another long shot of their head turning the other way and the camera turning again. Or the excruciating scenes of characters just standing and looking. It was difficult to wait for the camera to catch up. The movie needed so much more editing, as it stand it would bring it down to a short, but there were many aspects of the story that could have actually been attempted to be explored on screen, even in a minimalist way. You better off watching another Mexican films like "Lolo," "Vera," "Japon," Pulque's Song" or a favorite of mine "Amores Perros."