The full title of young Mexican director Julian Hernandez's soggy, oh-so-lyrical first feature is A THOUSAND CLOUDS OF PEACE FENCE THE SKY, LOVE, YOUR BEING LOVE WILL NEVER END, and if you think that mouthful smacks of a certain preciousness, you're right. To call it "poetic" is really being overly generous. With very little dialogue but striking black-and-white cinematography, Hernandez's debut unfolds in a blown-out, cloudy haze, while the emotions it holds within its fractured timeframe are buried so deep within 17-year-old Gerardo (Juan Carlos Ortuno) it's often difficult to piece together what, exactly, the film is supposed to be about. All available evidence points to the probability that Gerardo once had an older boyfriend — or, given Gerardo's youthful promiscuity, was he just a memorable trick? — named Bruno (Juan Carlos Torres, in flashbacks), whom Gerardo may have met at the seedy Mexico City pool hall where he works. But now, alas, Gerardo is alone: Bruno never showed for their five o'clock rendezvous on a highway overpass. All Gerardo has left to show for his love are a pocketful of memories — which we see as a series of glossy flashbacks — and a tattered love note filled with lachrymose musings on romance that Gerardo finds on the street and may (or may not) be from Bruno. As Gerardo searches for his lost lover amid Mexico City's slums and suburban neighborhoods, he tries to decipher the letter's purple poesy and cruises for sex. Some encounters, like the one at an abandoned warehouse, lead only to a beating. Others, like the wee-hours tryst with a maudlin night owl who has already learned most of the lessons love has to teach, leave the heartbroken lad with the hard-won wisdom of strangers. Snatches of convoluted dialogue surface through the murk, but despite Hernandez's serious sense of purpose, Gerardo's predicament is really just an overblown case of teenage puppy love, albeit one tinged with a presentiment of death. The soft, shallow focus and the monochrome cinematography are often lovely, occasionally recalling the bleak beauty of Jean Genet's 1950 short "Un Chant d'Amour." But combined with the careful posing, enigmatic action and flowery language, it all amounts to something less than an 80-minute Calvin Klein advertisement.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: NR
- Review: The full title of young Mexican director Julian Hernandez's soggy, oh-so-lyrical first feature is A THOUSAND CLOUDS OF PEACE FENCE THE SKY, LOVE, YOUR BEING LOVE WILL NEVER END, and if you think that mouthful smacks of a certain preciousness, you're right.… (more)