Battle in Heaven (2006)


Critic Consensus: Though it tries to be provocative, Battle in Heaven is lethargic and mind-numbing.


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Movie Info

In Battle in Heaven (AKA Batalla en el Cielo), director Carlos Reygadas' searing look at the inherent hypocrisies of Mexico's social structure, Marcos Hernandez is Marcos, an overweight, poverty-stricken chauffeur who longs for a better life for his wife and young son. Desperate, the couple kidnaps an infant child for ransom. When the baby dies in their custody, this simple crime that Marcos hoped would brighten his family's future instead adds a crushing burden to his conscience and will bring dire consequences for Marcos and his wife if discovered. Meanwhile, Ana, an affluent general's daughter whom Marcos chauffeurs from place to place, secretly battles ennui by prostituting herself in a local brothel with her friends. The two confide their darkest secrets in one another, and as Marcos urges Ana to drop out of whoring, Ana tries to convince Marcos to turn himself in. Marcos, however, will not listen, insisting that true forgiveness and redemption must come from above. Batalla en el Cielo marked the second major international release for director Reygadas, after the acclaimed Japon (2002).


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Critic Reviews for Battle in Heaven

All Critics (59) | Top Critics (20)

Since premiering at Cannes the movie has become notorious for its shocking, emphatically unerotic sex scenes, though it's equally notable for its striking visual conceits and small moments of intense feeling.

Apr 6, 2010 | Full Review…

Insufferably arty, polemic and winkingly provocative.

Apr 21, 2006 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

A spectacular failure, despite further evidence of the director's keen eye and bold cinematic ideas.

Mar 31, 2006 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

Art with a capital A. Don't be afraid. OK, be a little afraid.

Mar 31, 2006 | Rating: B | Full Review…

If you dare to see it, prepare for a challenge.

Mar 24, 2006 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Reygadas' gift for imagery is undeniable, but for most viewers, Battle in Heaven will offer not enlightenment but frustration.

Mar 24, 2006 | Rating: 3/5

Audience Reviews for Battle in Heaven


A very strange film, with very little action, taking place over just a few days. Long takes in which the camera pans about the scene while the action continues, often off-camera, lent a certain style to the film. However, the motivation for some of the action was entirely missing, as was any sign of emotion from the actors. What happens is fairly clear. Why those things occurred is still a bit of a mystery. Yet for all of its shortcomings, this still proved to be quite interesting.

Mark Abell
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

First movie made to date starring robots disguised as humans. Thus, explaining the lack of anything that remotely looks like a human emotion, or normal human behaviour, in this film. Anyway, Reygadas can't trick me with his smoke curtains, the man wanted to film fat people screwing. If you need more proof of the type of cinematic wanker this guy is, he's selling himself like a sort of Tarkovsky meets Breson. Seriously, nobody in his right mind will say they "enjoyed" this unless they're just trying to impress some pseudo-intelectual hot chick at some bar.

Tsubaki Sanjuro
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

Ugly fat guy sleeps with prostitute in graphic sex scene. Slow, plot-less, with characters you couldn't care less about let alone identify with.

Ross Collins
Ross Collins

Super Reviewer

I was quite disappointed by this, expecting a Breillat-style examination of raw sexuality. Though the movie has developed a notorious reputation for it's extreme sex scenes, these moments do seem to glare at the audience, as if only to distract us from the plotless imagery. It seems to involve a kidnapping and the pursuit of a girl ending in our protagonist's mental breakdown, but the narrative is highly uninvolving, giving the film a very documentarian feel. And when most of what is documented is a fat man recieving a veerrry slow blowjob, it does make you question sticking through it all.

Antony Stubbs
Antony Stubbs

Super Reviewer

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