What is love? Is it a possessive, interactive, spontaneous relationship between man and woman? For Juan, the leading man of Our Time (Nuestro Tiempo), no matter what love is, it definitely needs to under his control.
Our Time (Nuestro Tiempo), directed by Carlos Reygadas, follows protagonist Juan, a poet-rancher, played by Reygadas himself, and Juan's wife, Esther, played by his real-life partner, Natalia López. The movie tells the story of an unbearable, even abnormal relationship between Juan and Esther and leaves the audiences to rethink the reality behind this fictional story.
The film begins on Juan’s ranch, where Juan and Esther are chasing bulls whose actions mirror the unease within their relationship. It is an absolute work of art filled with long- and close-shot scenes and appropriately inserted music. The voice and tight shots maximize the film's impact. When Juan grows suspicious of the relationship between Esther and their cowboy guest, Phil, played by Phil Burger, the close shot of Esther’s phone paired with frequent text ringtones makes the scene more cohesive. The long-shot landscape brings natural beauty into the movie’s elements, such as the spread of Juan’s ranch, the bulls roaming and sweeping views of the city. The themes are so heavy, however, that the audience might need to digest and consider: is there anything happening in the landscape related to what just happened in the story?
The film is not telling a heartwarming love story. Juan is depicted as a man filled with strong possessiveness of everything. He acts like he has been betrayed by Esther, but he is the one who truly controls everything that happens. He leads his wife in circles and tells her to follow her desire while still spying on her and manipulating her to have sex with another man. Trust is the mist that leads the audience the wrong way, but Juan's suspicions and desires are the truth underneath his disguise. Juan wants to see the love between Esther and him, but in the wrong way. He cries when he realizes things will not return to how they were, and he has a clear revelation of life when he visits his friend Pablo, who is on his death bed.
To close the film, Reygadas returns back to a shot of the bulls. Two bulls fight until one of them eventually falls from a cliff and dies. The movie cuts at the scene of the dead bull laying on the ground, just like Juan and Esther’s love, which rests in the dirt.
Playing again 9 p.m. Saturday, March 2 at Willy Wilson @ Ragtag, 3:15 p.m. Sunday, March 3 at Rhynsburger Theatre.