Mariner of the Mountains review – marvelous dreamlike Algerian odyssey | Movies

Karim Aïnouz, best known for his dramatic feature films set primarily in Brazil such as Invisible Life, Love for Sale and the evocative title Je voyage because je faut, je reviens because je t’aime, is truly an international filmmaker. Son of a Brazilian mother and an Algerian father, he lives sometimes in Berlin, sometimes in the United States, according to his latest project. (His next film, Firebrand, will star Alicia Vikander as Henry VIII’s last wife, Katherine Parr.)

Mariner of the Mountains, which premiered last year in Cannes, technically revisits the fundamentals and Aïnouz’s family history to create a thoughtful and often moving film-essay about his trip to Algeria, the homeland that he never knew. Narrated throughout in Portuguese by the silky-voiced director, the film includes a sort of filial love letter to his recently deceased mother, Iracema, who raised him in Fortaleza, northern Brazil, with his granddaughter. mother after she was separated from her husband, Majid, Karim’s Algerian father. Majid went to Algeria to fight in the civil war, leaving his pregnant wife in the Americas.

In the film, Aïnouz meets disgruntled young people smoking joints by the water’s edge, benevolent old people who offer him coffee and oral history, a brilliant teenage cousin who spins local creation myths, and a particularly beautiful horned goat. buckled. The footage mixes the scenic footage Aïnouz shot himself along the way, interspersed with old Super 8 footage of Iracema as a young woman, archival footage and spellbinding microscope views of the single-celled sea creatures. that the director’s mother studied as a scientist.

Ricardo Saraiva’s editing adds to the dreamy vibe of the film, which repeatedly sets the mood in an edit with beautiful underlying music to cut abruptly, killing the buzz each time. It’s like the movie wants to keep cutting the rug out for us, just when we might think we’re going to do some smart film tourism. But Aïnouz is not sentimental; his essay evokes not only the mysteries of his parents’ marriage, but also the country’s postcolonial history and anguished present, a subject he explored in depth in Nardjes Aa complementary piece to this one that he shot simultaneously and follows a local activist fighting for democracy.

Mariner of the Mountains is on Mubi starting May 23.