One can’t help but wonder if Netflix’s much-publicised recent financial troubles are down to business decisions like giving Alejandro G. Iñárritu millions to make Bardo, rather than just sending him to a really good therapist.

The writer/director is too talented to entirely waste this opportunity, but there’s something about a semi-autobiographical three-hour film focusing on a Mexican journalist/documentarian who is caught between loyalty to his homeland and his ambition in the U.S. that just screams mid-life crisis.

There is something interesting to be found in Iñárritu’s premise (the full title hints at the malleability of truth and lies), in a world where journalism has become corrupted by the growing need to monetise in order to stay alive. But it is explored too rarely to really leave an impact. Instead Iñárritu mostly explores the dichotomy between truth and lies by pulling the rug out from under the viewer with countless alternate realities and scenes that are revealed to be from the movie within the movie (of course there’s one).

All this serves to do is emphasise how lost Silverio (an excellent Daniel Giménez Cacho) is and it leaves the direction feeling uncertain. It’s hard to invest in any scene when you suspect it’s going to be cast away a few minutes later.

Iñárritu is too talented to shoot a boring scene, with some show-stopping set-pieces including a cigarette break with Hernán Cortés on top of a pile of his victims, and a deconstructed dance scene set to the isolated vocal version of Let’s Dance. Cinematographer Darius Khondji is another highlight, with photography that feels rich and alive. But by the end you can’t help but wonder what it was all for?



CAST: Daniel Giménez Cacho, Griselda Siciliani, Ximena Lamadrid, Iker Sanchez Solano, Andrés Almeida, Francisco Rubio

DIRECTOR: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

WRITERS: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone

SYNOPSIS: Follows a renowned Mexican journalist and documentary filmmaker who returns home and works through an existential crisis as he grapples with his identity, familial relationships, and the folly of his memories.