2020, Movies

Nuevo orden aka New Order (2020, Michel Franco)

This is a very promising film about class conflict in Mexico that gets really confused and, for me, goes off the rails to the point where I am kind of astounded it won a Grand Jury Prize at a film festival.

SPOILERS later in the review.

The opening is not great. There’s all this chaotic scene-setting – basically some tableaux plus one scene of dialogue – which feels completely unnecessary given what happens next.

What happens next is a pretty incredible wedding scene in which a rich family in Mexico City is slowly confronted by escalating chaos outside the house. There are so many things to like about this set piece, from the way it is shot to the way life starts to intrude bit by bit and then…bang. But, the opening shots undercut this confusion and the whole thing would be more effective without them. Still, the wedding scene is far and away the highlight of the film and almost worth watching the film for. (Almost)

Here’s where the SPOILERS come in

Things start going off the rails when the soldiers kidnap the bride. From this point on the film makes a lot less sense to me. It also gets a lot more ambitious in terms of time and plot. I honestly don’t know what to make of it, beyond finding it very confused. I should mention that my recent experience of the pandemic makes me more skeptical of these dystopian visions and so maybe that influenced why I found it kind of incomprehensible. It just felt like it was hard to figure out why any non-major character did what they did. I think that was intentional but it could have been handled better.

When the climax occurs, the film appears to be saying that the rich should treat the poor better and they should not trust the military because the military will only betray them. That may be true, but there are less bizarre ways of saying it.

Last year, I watched an excellent, stunning film inspired by class issues in Mexico City that was way better than this. I wish it got this kind of attention.

6/10 for the wedding scene, which was great.

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