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Cry for Me, Argentina: Jauja 

Wednesday, May 20 2015
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What's it all about, Alonso? Jauja, the stark new film by Lisandro Alonso, ain't tellin'. Or maybe it is, but it's a puzzle that viewers are left to solve by themselves. (This critic believes it's about toxic masculinity and the male fear of femininity, but then again, most things are.) Gunnar (Viggo Mortensen) is a Danish military engineer in 19th-century Argentina, brought on by the military to help quell the natives. Along for the ride, and causing something of a stir among the Argentine soldiers, is Gunnar's 14-year-old daughter, Ingeborg (Viilbjørk Malling Agger). When Ingeborg disappears, the ill-equipped Gunnar sets off into the unforgiving Patagonian desert to find her. Jauja takes its own time to get where it's going; the majority of the shots are wide, still, and often linger on the inhospitable landscape after the humans have exited the frame. That it's shot in the 1:33 Academy ratio, with un-matted round edges, only adds to the film's sense of documentary unease. And exactly where it's going is a matter for debate, especially with its hard, Mulholland Drive-worthy left turn in the third act. Jauja will be off-putting to some (one IMDB commenter called it "one of the worst movies ever"), but for those willing to get on its challenging wavelength, it's worth the ride.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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