What makes a life function and move forward? The quote is a question that is visually posed in Jauja, an existential parable that uses the outlines of a Western to treat us to a profusion of iconic shots, toned in deeply saturated colors to resemble vintage photographs, or painted stills from a 19th century novel.
'Jauja' is a window into another time, framed in a strikingly self-conscious way. And yet, it's not a period piece per se, as its quest is purely metaphysical, brought on screen by an experience rendered in real-time, depictions of daily routine included. Still, there's no tedium to be found: there's the wind in the reeds to be looked at, and our hero's conquest of the inhospitable mountain ranges that could come straight out of a Caspar David Friedrich painting. Alonso reduces cinema to its essence and plays on our strange fascination with movement on screen, recalling the fascination with the first films of the Lumière brothers. When the quest is turned upside down and revealed as a Freudian dream fantasy from a time that's much like our own, Alonso's period piece gets another meaning still, as a slightly outmoded, but strikingly beautiful retake on that special strain of the surreal seventies cinema, following up on Jodorowsky and Louis Malle's Black Moon (1975).
The Young Critics Workshop is organized in cooperation with Photogénie.