Los Conductos review – a cryptic Colombian parable | Drama films

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This challenging Colombian parable feels like it could have been made in the 1970s, what with its cryptic storytelling, spiritual musings and vivid imagery, all shot on grainy 16mm. Rejecting conventional narrative structures, its story takes some decoding, and may well defy comprehension, but its striking visual language, with vibrant colours, sparse compositions and free-associative editing, casts quite a spell.

Our protagonist is a bearded, long-haired young vagrant named Pinky (Luis Felipe Lozano), whom we first find shooting a man, stealing a motorbike, then getting high in an abandoned warehouse. It transpires he has recently left a cult and has killed its leader. We never see the cult in question, but in voiceover we learn of the hold its leader had on Pinky and other outcasts: “We had been miraculously saved from a world that had always seen us as worthless.”

Fragments of Pinky’s experience are presented with little distinction between real and imagined. He spends time at a counterfeit T-shirt printing workshop. He recounts the tale of a beggar addict who believes they’re in a parallel world underground. He strips copper wire from buildings. He has a bewildering encounter with a man (who may be an incarnation of the cult leader) in a forest, where it is unclear who is going to kill whom.

There are echoes here of Chilean auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky in the disorienting stew of metaphor and mysticism, and the sheer logic-defying strangeness of it all. Lozano even bears a physical resemblance to Jodorowsky in his head-trip classic The Holy Mountain. But director Camilo Restrepo seems less concerned with psychedelic spiritual questing than commenting on Colombia’s real social and political decay. The film ends with a poem by Gonzalo Arango (which could be a key to deciphering the entire exercise) that asks: “When will Colombia stop killing its sons?” Oblique and impenetrable as it is, it’s a memorable experience.

Los Conductos is available from 11 March on Mubi.

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Source: The Guardian
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