Released by: Arrow Video
Released on: February 13th, 2017.
Director: Emiliano Rocha Minter
Cast: Noe Hernández, María Evoli, Diego Gamaliel, Gabino Rodríguez, María Cid
Year: 2016 Purchase From Amazon
Written and directed by Mexican filmmaker Emiliano Rocha Minter, 2016’s We Are The Flesh made the festival rounds last year to mixed critical reaction. Indeed, this seemed to be the very definition of a ‘love it or hate it’ film, and now Arrow Video have unleashed the film on the general populace with a proper mass market special edition Blu-ray release.
The film is set in some sort of unspecified dystopia somewhere in the future. Here a brother and sister team - Maria (María Evoli) and Lucio (Diego Gamaliel) – wander what’s left of a once massive city in search of somewhere to seek shelter and maybe find some sustenance. When they meet a seemingly kind but no doubt very eccentric hermit named Mariano (Noe Hernández) it seems like their luck has changed for the better. He takes them in and lets them stay in the fairly massive warehouse that he calls home. All that he asks in return, at least initially, is that they help him build a huge cavern of sorts… and then to perform for him in some kinky incestuous unions that quickly spiral out of control.
Early in the movie we see Noe Hernández take out an eye dropper and administer a dose of ‘something’ onto his tongue while lying on the floor of his abode. He trips, or at least we think he does, and the movie sort of goes from there. Minter’s picture is heavy on hallucinogenic visuals and psychedelic trappings, letting visuals talk where dialogue can’t. The characters in the film don’t talk too much. That’s not to say it’s a silent picture, it most definitely is not, but these three characters have a strange distance about them that makes what happens in the last half of the film all the more unsettling. Yes, in this picture we witness a brother and sister fuck for the delight of a stoned sadistic hermit and yes, that’ll likely trigger the shock value content for quite a few viewers. Fair enough. But there is more here than just bizarre imagery of sex and death. Minter is clearly using all of this as an allegory of sorts, but as to how successful he is at it… that’s really up to each viewer. If nothing else there’s a definite sense that Hernández’s character is experiencing a rebirth by coercing his playthings into participating in his twisted games. It’s hard not to see the cavern that they build as a womb and there’s other imagery scattered throughout the movie that plays off of this idea as well. It’s also interesting to see Hernández as a Satanic tempter of sorts, bringing a man and a woman out of the wilderness and eventually getting them to sin.
Visually the film is strong. If made on a modest budget, it doesn’t much matter as the sets and locations used for the production fit the context of the story really well. Minter also tends to bathe his film in primary colors for dramatic effect – and it works. The camera never flinches from the film’s depictions of graphic sex and equally graphic violence and the performers all offer committed and effective work here. The ‘story’ such as it is might get a bit muddled before it’s all over and the picture will definitely leave you scratching your head a few times, but fans of surrealist cinema and challenging pictures should appreciate this.
Arrow Video presents We Are The Flesh on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. Shot digitally, obviously there are no problems with any print damage, dirt or debris nor is there any grain to discuss and for that reason the image is pristine. Color reproduction is often times blindingly intense, but that’s part of the film’s intended look. Black levels are nice and solid and primary hues really pop here. Skin tones look nice and natural and there are no problems with any compression artifacts or edge enhancement to note.
Spanish language options are provided in DTS-HD 5.1 and DTS-HD 2.0 stereo with optional subtitles provided in English only. The 5.1 mix is of excellent quality with plenty of distinct channel separation evident throughout. The mix also spreads the music and effects out quite nicely as well. The 2.0 isn’t as involving but it’s still got some nice L-R action up front. Both tracks feature nicely balanced levels and clean, crisp audio. No complaints here.
Extras for this disc begin with a video essay by critic Virginie Sélavy that runs roughly thirty-six minutes in length. This is an interesting piece that offers up a nice mix of critical analysis and interpretation, digging deep into some of the symbolism and metaphors contained in the film and offering up some opinions on how the film toys with audience expectations and has a lot more social commentary in it than some might first expect.
Also included are interviews with director Emiliano Rocha Minter and cast members Noé Hernández, María Evoli and Diego Gamaliel. There are interesting in that they offer up a chance to learn a bit about the behind the scenes happenings in regard to how this movie came to be. Minter’s got the most to say and he talks about the movie’s unorthodox casting methods, adapting the screen play and more. The three performers offer some thoughts on what it was like acting in such an odd picture, their characters and more. Arrow have also been good enough to included two short films directed by Minter - Dentro and Videohome, running twelve and elven minutes each respectively. These aren’t as confrontational as the feature attraction but they show off a lot of the same visual tropes that Dentro employed in We Are The Flesh and they both work on a similar level.
Outside of that we get a theatrical trailer for the feature, a stills gallery, animated menus and chapter selection.
Included inside the clear Blu-ray keepcase is a full color illustrated collector’s booklet featuring an essay on the film by critic Anton Bitel, a note from the producer on the film and credits for the feature and the disc. Arrow has also included some nice reversible cover art for this release.
The Final Word:
We Are The Flesh is essentially eighty minute of sex and madness, often times combining both elements at once. It’s a deliberately bizarre and challenging picture worth seeing and just as importantly worth thinking about. Arrow’s Blu-ray release offers up a great presentation and a nice selection of supplements that help to offer up insight into the picture’s origins and intentions.
Click on the image below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!