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Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths

Farhad Dalal
Farhad Dalal
4 Star popcorn reviewss


It is still a Wednesday and the new releases and scheduled to be out from tomorrow. But before that I thought of squeezing in another film from the International Circuit. With that I finished watching Bardo, False Chronicle Of A Handful Of Truths(let us call it Bardo for the rest of the review shall we?) which is streaming on Netflix. The film is Mexico’s official submission to the Academy awards this year and I am reviewing it on a day when the final 15 shall be announced later today.

But what really made me excited for the film was its director Alejandro G Inarritu, the mind behind brilliant films like Birdman, The Revenant, Amores Perros and Babel. And an even more interesting aspect was that the film did receive so many negative reviews which in a weird manner made me curious. Alejandro’s films are filled with lucid metaphors that do require a sense of perspective to decipher it along with a complete surrender to the vision of the filmmaker in order to completely understand films from his filmography. And with that benefit of doubt in mind, I ventured into Bardo, thus ticking off another film from the Oscars list. So then is Bardo worth your time, stay tuned.

Story & Screenplay

Bardo, False Chronicle Of A Handful Of Truths is one such story that you need to know very little off before venturing into the drama. This will ensure that you have bo preconceived notions, thus surrending yourself to the vision of the filmmaker. I must say that some of the criticism about the film does hold true given that the entire film is an overindulgent painting with frames after frames filled with metaphors that almost did seem like a rant at times. Yet, if you are willing to give in to the indulgence(and the filmmaker makes it very evident from the title itself) then this film is richly rewarding as well. The screenplay standing at 160 minutes did seem like it would be a slog but the more I ventured in this drama, the more curious I was on what it had to offer. It was trippy in many ways that had the power to suck you into the labyrinth.

The very first scene does set the tone for things to follow. A pale shadow fluttering through the landscapes of a desert only to often be weighed down by its path and rise up again is what formulates a scene. The weighing down elements are what are discussed right throughout the film. So we are introduced to the protagonist who is a journalist and a documentary filmmaker with his roots in Mexico yet staying in the States for over 20 years. It is this conflict that triggers a series of events attributing to the self-retropective about an individual who up until then did not view his country in the same light as his work land.

The drama is indulgent in many ways but it also depends on the viewer to further indulge in it. So if the latter is fulfilled, the drama will be engaging and engrossing as you would be on a trippy adventure with the protagonist as you make way through his chaotic mind. Make no mistake, this drama isn’t for everyone. It is unstructured, niche and a slow burn of the highest order. There are imageries that give you a sense of what may have transpired in the life of the protagonist. For instance, in a weirdly gripping scene, a new born baby is pushed right back into his mother that signifies a loss of their child. In a separate set of events, a recurring news flash does make sense of how Amazon is taking ownership of a city in Mexico that signifies roots of capitalism which is prevalent even today.

Yet, what the drama often does is recreate a sequence of events from the history of Mexico and showcase them as allegories. Be it the genocide movement or the 1847 Battle Of Chapultepac that does give a glimpse into the history and culture of the land, something that I really enjoyed witnessing. But the chaotic mind of the protagonist blurs boundaries between what is real and his dreams that doesn’t allow the audience to settle into the drama at any given point of time. The drama prompts the viewers to think that this is a personal tale of sorts that is unfolding in the mind of the filmmaker. His personal relationships that he shares with his dead parents or his wife and children against the backdrop of the political turmoil of the land coupled with how his work land never allowed him to call it his home, is all well explored.

The final act is a trademark of Alejandro and his films like Birdman that you have witnessed earlier. You partly do get an explanation about why things are unstructured and chaotic yet there are a few things unanswered here. The ending is unique to the film in many ways that is open to interpretations just like Birdman was. But if you have been watching the proceedings closely, you would be able to decipher it with not much fuss! So overall, the screenplay is unique and quite a niche which will not be liked by everyone. Yet, it is rewarding and insightful in many ways in a drama that is otherwise difficult to binge watch in a single go.

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are largely conversational with the right amount of sentiments added as a political undertone that does make for an impactful viewing. The BGM is soothing and almost signifies Bardo which in Buddhism means ‘in between’. It is meditative, trippy and magnetic. The cinematography is one of the most beautiful pieces of art that I have seen all year. The lighting and colour grading elevate the already beautiful frames to another level altogether. Alejandro G Inarittu has a craft that is strictly unique to him. And he loves to dabble and experiment with a lot of imageries with a tendency of also going overboard at times. But here his direction has conviction along with a sense of over indulgence that did work for me in a weird manner. The proceedings did require to be chaotic and trippy and for that the over indulgence with the right amount of madness was necessary. His direction is excellent here.


The performances are exquisite here. Iker Sanchez Solano as Lorenzo and Ximena Lamadrid as Camila have their moments to shine. Griselda Siciliani as Lucia is first rate. But it is Daniel Gimenez Cacho as Silverio who is absolutely stunning in a performance of a lifetime. His character was layered, chaotic and complex with so many conflicting emotions in play and he comes out a winner in a phenomenally towering act!


Bardo, False Chronicle Of A Handful Of Truths is a niche and convoluted spiral limbo which is not meant for everyone. Yet it did work for me beautifully well! Available on Netflix and Highly Recommended.

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