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Eisenstein in Guanajuato

Directed by Peter Greenaway

Mexico, 2015

HOME, 21 April 2016

And in bed, mostly: Eisenstein, played by the effervescent Elmer Back, tends to spend a lot of his time in Guanajuato in bed, exploring his sexuality as they say.

A tragic triumph of style over substance, that is how I would describe Greenaway’s film. Yes, there is an abundance of cinematic invention, yet this serves in the end to undermine the veracity of the narrative and your belief in the people who are present. Mexican bandits and maids and Day of the Dead freaks give the film picturesque local colour. During its slow meander you look about for a blessed distraction and they serve as well as any other. I also found myself examining the interiors of the hotel where Eisenstein was staying and wondering whether certain of the features dated from the brief Habsburgs era. We have come to a fine pass in a film when the ground is more interesting than the figure, though I’ve since learnt that this – ‘panoramic viewing’ – was a surrealist pastime.

I made an effort to like this film, but it is probably not really my thing. Only stray to the margin if you can go deep, that’s my advice. Greenaway cannot.