Dark Side of the Heart

"I do not care if a woman's breasts are like magnolias or dried figs [...] but there is one thing I cannot forgive and that is a woman who cannot fly." Thus goes one of the opening lines to the movie Dark Side of the Heart, a movie that is existentially romantic.

Apparently everyone has read Camus' Stranger, or so it seems, in the introductory parts of this movie where a Buenos Aires poet seems stricken with wanderlust moving from one place to another, sleeping with the girls he woos with his poetic, but sometimes crass, words. This is just like the trains he buys and loses each time he moves, going around constantly in circles around its tracks. Not only does he win girls with his poetry, but he also manages to exhange poetry for steaks. A lot of the conversation in this movie is that poetry, and while it does have an enormous impact on the audience in relation to the plot, it does lose something in the translation.

Our roaming poet scoffs at death (apparently everyone's read Neil Gaiman too---there's a "death" character here who constantly hounds the hero) and proceeds to fall in love with a prositute on the other side of the river, in Montevideo (I hope I spelt that right). The death character also could be considered his "reason" persona, and this hints that reason could be construed as a "death", and rightly so, for reason generally kills all passion.

The movie is laden with trite, but yet funny and sometimes deep, symbolism, from a literal roller coaster ride to the cries of two people in lust to the trapdoor/bed which is activated whenever one of the people in a relationship is dumped. It is also vulgarly surreal, not just with the words used ("you are a mediocre death", referring to the poet's death companion), but also with imagery such as hearts being eaten and the whole concept of "flying".

Which brings us to what the movie is all about in the end: a love story. Which is the flying theme---which could mean love, but not in any traditional sense. In the end his words, after the prostitute and he have flown together, are: "I don't understand how can you leave so poor when you have made me so rich."

There's also a sculptor friend who specialises in making art that Freud would've had a field day analysing: A door shaped like a vagina which parts when someone enters ("Is anyone in the vagina?" (this is actually wrong because to enter the vagina (shaped-door), one would have to go out, not in)) and 9 foot perfect-penises. This promptly lands the artist in jail: "if this were America, this exhibition [showing off his art] would be sponsored by American Express. Here it can banned any minute."

In the end, the sculptor decides that he wants to make a sculpture that shows "Jesus fucking Death". Just imagine Death, with her scythe, and teeth showing in orgasmic ecstasy, while Jesus is shown serene, peaceful and content. As the poet says: "they won't arrest you, they'll crucify you."

All in all, it was truly an unusual and a timeless movie. I highly recommend checking it out if it rolls around you.

For the most part we do not first see, and then define, we define first and then see. In the great bloom, buzzing confusion of the outer world, we pick out what our culture has already defined for us, and we tend to perceive that which we have picked out in the form stereotyped for us by our culture. ---Walter Lipman.

Movie ramblings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org