Jan 20, 2021

Red Moon Tide (Lois Patiño, 2020)

"The monster is the sea. It has been sleeping for centuries. We are its dream... The monster is the Moon. It devours time." 

After a sailor, Rubio, disappears at the sea, while trying to prove his hypothesis that a monster is haunting the shores, his village is struck with a mysterious malaise - all the inhabitants fall into a catatonic-like state. Neither dead nor alive, they sit or stand at rocks, amidst a grove and a flooded field, inside an inactive dam or their modestly furnished homes, their gazes transfixed on the Unknown (or the abyss of their own creation?). As they sink deeper into Oblivion, ruminating on Rubio's fate through sparse internal monologues, a trio of witches appears out of nowhere. These women are their last hope, but it soon becomes evident that even they are powerless against the higher, cosmic forces at play...

Evoking ancient myths and fairy tales, Lovecraftian dread, Hopperesque melancholy and Tarkovskian poeticism, Lois Patiño's sophomore feature submerges the viewer in disquieting stillness, and demands considerable amount of patience with its decidedly lethargic pacing, inert, equivocal narrative and motionless, mannequin-like characters. Pervaded by silence subtly pierced by diegetic sounds, brooding voice-overs and muffled wailing of underwater darkness, Red Moon Tide (originally, Lúa vermella) is brimful of picturesque, stunningly beautiful visuals possessing a hypnotic, dreamlike quality. Patiño makes the most of natural light, and imbues shadows with a foreboding sense of impending or rather, inevitable doom. When it moves, his camera gently caresses everything its eye captures, alchemically transmuting each shot into a delicately imposing painting, especially in the final act of red-tinged, cataclysmic grandeur. In those tumultuous, nightmarish and cathartic moments, the author decides to reveal a much speculated 'Leviathan' - the sublime embodiment of both our anxieties and monstrosities...

An impressive milestone in Patiño's career and an irrefutable proof of the filmmaker's talent, Red Moon Tide is also a shining example of slow cinema, transcendental in its fantastical gloominess.

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