Crime and atonement
To some it may certainly seem strange, but this Norte, The End Of History by Lav Diaz , a sort of mix between adaptation of crime and punishment and prison drama lasting four hours and ten minutes, is the most accessible and “pleasant” movie. of the Filipino filmmaker who in the past became famous for his river works, moreover in black and white and with a very small budget, of six, eight and even ten hours.
Despite the many references to the history and current affairs of the Philippines that certainly do not help the foreign spectator at the beginning of the film, the story is actually quite linear and simple: Fabian, a young intellectual and turbulent former law student, tired of assisting helpless to the injustices of life and a society that no longer seems to work, kills Magda, arrogant and contemptible choking, and his daughter witness to the murder.
Fabian covers his tracks and flees to Manila, and it is here that the story is intertwined with that of the family of Joaquin, a man who due to a broken leg has been left without work and has thus been forced to resort to the services of Magda. The morning before Magda’s murder, Joaquim had had a hard and violent altercation with the woman and had fled away in front of many witnesses, so it was the police who committed the crime; soon he is arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. Joaquim’s wife thus finds herself taking care of her own children, working hard and without breaks, for four years, or until the return of Fabian apparently in search of redemption.
But is it really possible to atone for one’s sins? The director seems to ask himself this question both for his protagonists and for his country, and the answer is in the final half-hour, when the tone of the film becomes darker, less realistic and more symbolic.
We do not know if this choice will continue with the subsequent works of the director, but certainly with this film Lav Diaz makes significant changes to his style and his poetics that can not leave his mark: not just the good photo of Lauro Rene Manda and some very sought-after and successful camera movements, but above all the compactness of the script and the narrative tension to make this Norte, The End Of Historya less experimental, clearer and more powerful work in his message; closer to a cinema, however, a niche like the festival, finally ready to welcome the Filipino filmmaker among the big names on the international scene.