Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths

Two Time Oscar-winning director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s latest film is a bit of inside baseball for cinephiles. Meaning it’s not a film you can plop anyone in front of and enjoy. Iñárritu follows the auteur trend of creating a film that reflects his own life and uses fictionalized elements to make it more cinematic. While “Bardo” might not be the tour de force of Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” or the family-friendly “The Fablemans” by Spielberg, it’s wildly creative and audacious. Those familiar with the
director’s previous works like “Birdman,” “The Revenant,” “Biutiful,” and so on will spot the imagery from those films, reworked into this “False Chronicle.” One of the many peculiarities within “Bardo.”
is Iñárritu critiquing his work, style, and even his way of thinking?

Silverio Gacho (Cacho), one of the most renowned and controversial journalists working in Mexico, is facing a midlife crisis. At a turning point, he questions his stance on everything. He defends his country as much as he criticizes it while living comfortably in the US and Mexico City. As he prepares to accept a prestigious journalism award, the first ever awarded to a Mexican journalist, the past, the future, and the present haunt his speech preparation, and he looks back on a life full of shame
and accomplishments.

This film works best if you allow it to wash over you. In the end, everything becomes apparent when you understand the circular narrative.

“Bardo’s” narrative is like a circle; the opening sequence (which is captivating in the same way “Birdman” is) doesn’t tell the viewer where in the loop the story is beginning. You may feel lost or confused while watching the film. If you do, it’s ok. This film works best if you allow it to wash over you. In the end, everything becomes apparent when you understand the circular narrative. There are breathtaking sequences, some that push the genre more towards fantasy, others that don’t work. Iñárritu explores his interest in challenging himself as a filmmaker within the plot. No secret here; Silverio is an avatar for the director. “Bardo” is not a smooth, consistent film. It’s messy and disjointed, which is both
charming and yet a weight on your patience.

The visual and cinematic interpretation of a miscarriage is one of the film’s most striking and memorable elements. However, the ending brings the most emotion, as all scenes that came before finally gain clarity. “Bardo” will be whatever the viewer allows it to be. It will be frustrating for some, deeply personal, and emotional for others. It’s a reflective film that dares you to find your way into someone else’s story. It’s like having a conversation with someone when at some point, you think, “I know what you mean.” The complex narrative Iñárritu works with is Nolan or Malick-type stuff, challenging the viewer. The key to understanding the method here might best be found in this phrase, “To end where we began, but to now understand the reason for the journey.”

Final Thought

Iñárritu’s most personal film to date is a daring flawed masterpiece.


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