A decade in the making and having a staggering runtime of 13 ½ hours, Argentine filmmaker Mariano Llinás’ playful, episodic, unpredictable, eccentric and wildly ambitious La Flor is a work of unbridled love and gargantuan audacity. Straddling across genres, formally adventurous, and comprising of a freewheeling structure – which the director explains with a deadpan demeanour – this was also a fascinating canvas for its four lead actresses (Elisa Carricajo, Valeria Correa, Pilar Gamboa, Laura Paredes) who aged over the film’s duration while enacting diverse characters, including flummoxed researchers, jealous musicians, turncoat spies, medieval seductresses, irritable actresses and aimless wanderers. The narrative is split into six chapters of unequal lengths that either begin or end in medias res – the truncated 1st episode, made in the mould of a B-movie, is about a cursed mummy unearthed by archeologists; the 2nd episode, a boldly passionate melodrama, is part musical on an emotionally ravaged pop diva and part mystery involving scorpions, and comprises of stunning songs; the extraordinary 3rd episode and pièce de résistance, is a murky, melancholic, existentialist, multi-linear and breathtaking 5 ½ hour spy thriller concerning four triple agents on the run with a kidnapped scientist, interspersed with their ravishingly delineated backstories; the confounding and meta-infused 4th episode starts with a parody of the film itself, and evolves into a befuddling film and film within the film; the 5th episode, a silent B/W short, is a revisit of Renoir’s A Day in the Country; and the moody 6th episode, hauntingly shot using camera obscura, is a diary on a group of women who’ve just escaped captivity. And the final cheeky coup de grâce? – the 40 minute long end credits, accompanied with the lilting melody of an improvisational song.
Director: Mariano Llinas
Genre: Drama/Thriller/Spy Thriller/Musical/Avant-Garde Film