Emiliano Rocha Minter’s extreme theatre of the flesh was the climax of Fantasia.
Rituals and rebirth, libidinous excess and transformative violence: in his spectacular debut, Mexican director Emiliano Rocha Minter creates his very own Theatre of Cruelty, in a direct line to Alejandro Jodorowsky and Antonin Artaud, but with a fully formed personal vision. In a similar spirit to his illustrious predecessors, incest, cannibalism, orgy and slaughter are used to build an extreme sensory experience that brutally shakes up audiences’ aesthetic and moral preconceptions, forcing them into new forms of perception.
In what seems to be a post-apocalyptic world, a grubby middle-aged man goes about the business of survival in a derelict building. His solitary, wordless existence changes with the arrival of two ragged, starving young people. The older man, Christic, diabolical and off his head, feeds them eggs along with subversive thoughts, which recognize no conventional moral boundaries, until the boy – reluctantly – and the girl – readily – let go of all inhibitions and interdictions to descend into a lawless, frantic, primal state of blood and lust.
It is a film that fully, messily embraces the body, all gore and genitals, mucus and menstruation, sex and slime. Many of the acts performed take place in a psychedelically coloured womb-like, subterranean space, creating a world that is carnal and hallucinatory, crude and oneiric, explicit and artificial at the same time. It is an intense, confined performance of the flesh that reduces everything to the physical, in what is both a retreat and a rebellion. The shock of the flesh is a liberation from the rule (and in that, it is a very Sadean film), but it is also a withdrawal from the world, a refusal to engage with the outside reality. Indeed, despite initial appearances, We Are the Flesh is elliptically, obliquely about Mexico, with its distortion of Catholic rituals and its perverse rendition of the national anthem, and its final revelation of what lies above. A stunning masterwork, visually and sonically accomplished, radical, fearless, and nourished by an irrepressible, lush, dark energy.