I'll be straight up honest; I don't know how to rate or review this film. For two reasons.
1) You can't hate what you don't understand.
2) You can't love what you don't understand.
Needless to say, I didn't understand Post Tenenbras Lux. And I'm not sure why. To help illustrate where I'm coming from, I'll compare to this to Holy Motors. Because, like PTL, it's also an avant-garde art film. But, unlike PTL, Holy Motors was critically acclaimed.
(The following discussion is written as I go along and is very general)
What makes a good art house film?
This is an even more complicated debate than what makes a film good generally speaking. But art house cinema is even more subjective than general cinema. I know it sounds ridiculous to separate the two, but I hope you're picking up what I'm throwing down.
I think when it comes down to general cinema, what will really divide audiences about liking Film X is the story. People will like the film, as a whole, if they like the story. People won't like the film, as a whole, if they don't like the story.
I think when it comes down to art house cinema, though, what will really divide audiences about liking Film Y is their interpretation of what it means. Art house films typically set out to mean something more. Something not concrete. They can use many techniques and tools to do this, but regardless, the meaning of Film Y can be drastically different from person to person. Oppose to Film X where the story is straight-forward and everyone can agree what happens, why they happen, and so forth.
Why I believe Holy Motors clicked significantly more than Post Tenenbras Lux is because Holy Motors, for an avant-garde film, isn't so far-fetched. It plays like a concept album. Each scene contributes to the expression of the overarching concept, theme, meaning, idea, or whatever. They're easier to connect, basically.
To me, without going in too deep, because this is a PTL review not a Holy Motors thesis paper, Holy Motors was a commentary about the art of acting. But as for Post Tenenbras Lux, I couldn't make much or any connections to all the other scenes, nor did I find a common underlying concept, theme, meaning, idea, or whatever between all or any of them. It was much harder for me to connect, basically.
For that reason, I can't give this a good or a bad review. Because I didn't understand it. To give it a bad review because I didn't understand it, would be cinematic injustice. To give it a good review even though I didn't understand it, would be self-deceptive and pretentious.
But I will say it truly has some exquisite visuals. The second scene in the film is the filmmaker's daughter running and wandering around an enormous field filled with cows, dogs, and donkeys during dusk. And to be quite honest, I could've watched that for the entire duration of the film. The child was adorable, the backdrop was gorgeous, and the camera movement was immersive.
That being my favorite scene, despite having no idea how it ties into the whole film, my second favorite comes from the one right after or just a couple after. A red demonic silhouette carrying a toolbox lurks through the home of the film's central family.
So, there's some really fascinating moments and scenes here and there, but as I've said multiple times already, I just don't know what they mean.
Having said all this, when I put the flick in, it was around two or three in the morning ... Not sure if that has anything to do with my lack of comprehension ...
Anyway, I'm giving Post Tenenbras Lux two mangos out of four because that's right smack-dab in the middle. A fair rating, I suppose. Maybe one day I'll go back and watch it and hopefully get a better grasp of it so I could write a more fair review.