The Dark Side of the Heart (1994)
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Critic Reviews for The Dark Side of the Heart
Audience Reviews for The Dark Side of the Heart
Inspirational, creative, different. I can watch it a 100 times, it will always make me fall in love with poetry again and again.
Eliseo Subiela's El Lado Oscuro del Corazon/ Dark Side of Heart II (2001) is a surreal meditation on aging, decay, fear of death and the meaning of love. The protagonist is an intellectual who is searching for something to redeem his meaningless life. A web of symbols (gravity, time) supports his allegorical journey. There is a bit of Fellini and a bit of Bergman in Subiela's tortuous, and, of course, a bit of magic realism and of Borges. His hyperbolic language recycles stereotypes that are not particularly original (the conversations with Time and Death). But the narrative flows in a mature and credible manner, and the way reality, dream and thought are blurring is remarkable. Middle-aged poet Oliverio hangs out at a bar and discusses women and gravity with barman Paco. He picks up (or dreams of picking up) a lonely woman. They have sex, then he presses a button and dumps the woman into a discharge hidden below the bed. Back to the bar, Oliverio meets another woman and has sex with her too. As he is walking in the street, a public phone starts ringing: he picks it up and has a poetical/philosophical conversation with the woman who called. She's another lover. They meet in a dance hall and she introduces him to Time himself, who keeps count of the past but can't predict the future. When he is alone, Oliverio talks to himself, to a double and even to a triple. Miranda asks him to find a job, but he is depressed by the aging process. His double convinces him to dump Miranda and travel to Spain. Oliverio, always trailed by Time on a motorcycle, looks and finds an old lover, Ana, but Time makes fun of his return to the past. Joaquin, a theatrical agent, invites him to a party. Joaquin is intriguing by the posters of Alejandra, a circus acrobat who (the poster says) is capable of flying, but Joaquin introduces him to twin sisters Daphne and Chloe (one is a magician and the other one is her best trick) and Oliverio has sex with them too. In his dreams, he keeps dumping women under the bed, and even himself. Obsessed with the woman who can fly, Oliverio asks Time to give him a ride to the circus. Oliverio is fascinated by Alejandra's show and goes to see her after the show. A man in black comes out of her trailer: he is Death, madly in love with her, and waiting for her to make a mistake. Oliverio tries to make love to her, but she tells him that first he must pass a test: he has to cross the tightrope that she crosses during her show. As Oliverio begins to walk over the tightrope, she begins to undress. His double and his triple laugh as he tries in vain to perform the acrobatic act. He fails (falls in the safety net) and has to sleep alone. The following day he sits next to the Death during Alejandra's show. Joaquin warns him against falling in love with her because she already tries to commit suicide. Oliverio doesn't listen: he tries again to cross the tightrope, fails again, and has to sleep alone again. This time he also play cards with Time, Death and Ana, and wins. Time whispers in his ear an advice on how to slow down both of them, Time and Death. Oliverio tries again to cross the tightrope, and this time Alejandra meets him halfway. They make love, but in the middle of the night Oliverio finds her dancing with Death. Still, he prevails: she chooses him over Death after walking the tightrop without any safety net. The couple takes off on Time's motorcycle (Time is not an enemy, he is the protector of Oliverio's most valuable treasure, his memories) but still followed by Death and Ana in a car. They dance and Oliviero defiantly touches Alejandra's belly (implying that she's getting pregnant), observed by Death, Ana and his own double and triple.
A masterpiece of poetry & magical realism.
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