Film Reviews, Short Review

El abrazo de la serpiente [Embrace of the Serpent] (2015)

3/4

Embrace of the Serpent presents itself as the inverse of all the Heart of Darkness-type films we’ve seen over the years, of white men journeying into the jungle and losing their minds—Apocalypse Now, half of Werner Herzog’s filmography—following instead the life of Kamarakate, the last of his tribe, in two interweaving time periods set decades apart as he takes Western explorers deep into the Amazon in search of a flower with mythical healing properties. Directed by Colombian Ciro Guerra, Embrace of the Serpent is an absolutely sumptuous-looking film, shimmering with 35mm black-and-white grain. However, whilst the execution of the film is incredible, its purpose seems slightly confused: it can’t seem to make up its mind whether it wants to be an acidic dream-trip, or an intellectual thesis on the nature of colonialism in South America. In the end, it struggles to make a genuinely forceful account of either. A fine film, but perhaps too overstuffed.

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