×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Under California: The Limit of Time

An artist named Damian disappears into the wilderness to do penance for a crime he can't shake in "Under California: The Limit of Time." Spanish-language pic, which marks directorial debut of "Like Water for Chocolate" editor Carlos Bolado, is a real find: a heartfelt odyssey into self that will remind some of John Sayles' recent "Men With Guns" but is, in every way, an improvement on that like-themed pilgrimage.

With:
Damian - Damian Alcazar Arce - Jesus Ochoa

An artist named Damian disappears into the wilderness to do penance for a crime he can’t shake in “Under California: The Limit of Time.” Spanish-language pic, which marks directorial debut of “Like Water for Chocolate” editor Carlos Bolado, is a real find: a heartfelt odyssey into self that will remind some of John Sayles’ recent “Men With Guns” but is, in every way, an improvement on that like-themed pilgrimage. Allegorical trappings won’t go over at the local megaplex, but specialized venues would do well to consider this haunting, pictorially ravishing Mexican import.

Damian Alcazar gives an unusually moving and, in long stretches purely visual performance as the well-known American artist who for-sakes his pregnant wife and heads south to the Baja peninsula to atone for an all-too-vivid hit-and-run accident. Damian says he’s going to San Francisco de la Sierra to kneel at his grandmother’s grave; but en route, his quest broadens and evolves: He leaves sculpture-shrines (out of shells, bleached whale bones, etc.) to his victim and the ravaged land and, after visiting the grave, journeys deeper into the mountains in search of Baja’s mysterious cave paintings (shown here for the first time on film).

Like a modern-day Job, Damian insists on a journey minus creature comforts. His pickup is burned as a sacrificial offering, and he declines the use of pack mules. He walks until he falls exhausted. His soul cleansed, he can now become one with nature and embrace both his spiritual and ancestral heritage, the latter represented by a distant cousin named Arce (strongly played by Jesus Ochoa).

At once complex in its visual conceptualization and political without hitting the viewer over the head, “Under California” owes a passing debt to the symbolic pilgrimages of Bunuel and Antonioni — but only a passing debt.

Bolado is capable of repeatedly blurring the lines between the corporeal and hallucinatory. In this goal he is aided immeasurably by lensers Rafael Ortega and Claudio Rocha, whose palettes consist of shadows, sunbursts and silhouettes. In one sequence Damian and his guide become the murals they seek, reminding the viewer that the most arduous trek is through an internal landscape.

Popular on Variety

Under California: The Limit of Time

Mexican

Production: An Imcine/Sincronia production. Produced, directed, edited by Carlos Bolado. Executive producer, Salvador Aguirre. Screenplay, Bolado, Ariel Garcia.

Crew: Camera (color), Rafael Ortega, Claudio Rocha; music, Antonio Fernandez Ros; production designers, Abraham Cruz-Villegas, Sebastian Rodriguez; sound (Dolby), Rogelio Villanueva. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (World Cinema), Jan. 29, 1999. Running time: 96 MIN.

With: Damian - Damian Alcazar Arce - Jesus Ochoa

More Film

  • If I Were a Rich Man

    Filmax Nabs Alvaro Fernandez Armero’s ‘If I Were a Rich Man’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN – Filmax has taken international rights to Álvaro Fernández Armero’s comedy “If I Were a Rich Man.” Produced by Telecinco Cinema, Think Studio and Ciskul, and backed by Mediaset España and Movistar+, “If I Were a Rich Man” is a Spanish remake of Michel Munz and Gerard Bitton’s French comedy “Ah! Si j’étais [...]

  • Baby

    Latido Takes Juanma Bajo Ulloa’s 'Baby' (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN – Latido Films has taken world sales rights outside Spain on Juanma Bajo Ulloa’s “Baby,” a drama with a psychological thriller narrative thrust starring Rosie Day (“Down a Dark Hall”), Harriet Sansom Harris (“Phantom Thread”), Natalia Tena (“Game of Thrones”), Charo López (“All Night Long”) and young actress Mafalda Carbonell (“To Live Twice”). [...]

  • Noahs Ark

    India’s Symbiosys to Co-Produce, Co-Animate Gullane’s ‘Noah’s Ark’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Noah’s Ark – A Musical Adventure,” Brazil’s most ambitious animated feature ever, just got a bit bigger with the announcement that producers Fabiano Gullane’s Gullane, Walter Salles’ Videofilmes and Felipe Sabino and Daniel Greco’s NIP will be joined by leading Indian animation studio Symbiosys Technologies as co-producers and co-animators. The partnership marks the first occasion [...]

  • Navarra

    Navarre Film Commission Celebrates First Decade at San Sebastian

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —    Since the 1950s, Spain has been a favorite European shooting locale. One of the biggest reasons remains its easily accessible, unique and diverse locations. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this past June, the Navarre Film Commission kicked off a traveling exhibition which has been touring Spain over the summer and will present [...]

  • Rambo Last Blood

    Film Review: 'Rambo: Last Blood'

    Home has always been an abstract concept for John Rambo, which is what the last scene of 2008’s otherwise expendable “Rambo” sequel finally gave the iconic Sylvester Stallone character: a moment when this unsettled Vietnam War survivor, looking very much the worse for wear, lumbers up to a mailbox bearing the character’s surname. At last, [...]

  • Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith. Jada

    Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith's Westbrook Inks Development Pact With Telepool (EXCLUSIVE)

    Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s new media venture, Westbrook Inc., has signed a co-development agreement for feature films, television shows and digital entertainment formats with German-based film and TV company Telepool. The move follows the acquisition of Telepool last year by Smith and Elysian Fields, a Zurich-based investment company. Westbrook, launched this year by [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content