Reygadas likens our disgust for his nonchalant sex scenes as a form of political reticence. Notice the differences between the film’s two major sex scenes: in one, Marcos lies passive beneath the controlling Ana; in the other, Marcos fucks his wife from behind, their rolls of fat jiggling up and down. The less appealing sex scene (guess which one?) ends with a loving hug, the other with an extreme close-up of Marcos’s uncircumcised penis losing its erection. Reygadas has a gift for weighty parallelism and Battle in Heaven not only comes with one but two sets of bookends: a pair of blowjobs. Early on, the Mexican flag is hoisted into the air; later, when Marco’s fate has been sealed, the flag goes flaccid. Beyond these two scenes appears two recapitulations of the same oral sex scene. In one, Ana goes down on Marcos, his cock sheathed in a condom; in the second, no condom is involved, but the cock is clearly a prosthetic. To the very end, the film is committed to conveying a modern tragedy of personal and political negation through sexual pageantry.
Jonathan Romney says that "To a degree, Battle in Heaven might seem like another warmed-over example of a familiar movie myth: a fairly repellent no-hoper redeemed by hot sex with a quasi-virginal prostitute," but that "it's finally hard to know whether Reygadas takes his transcendental, religious theme seriously, or is deriding it outright - or even deriding us for taking it seriously."
With his 2005 flamethrower Battle in Heaven he connects our discomfort viewing graphic sex to a daring critique of a country’s complicity in a man’s frustrated social situation. Reygadas provokes—calmly, not thuggishly—our contempt for his film’s radical aesthetic patterns and explicit sexual nature, suggesting our anxiety with the text’s essential unconventionality is tantamount to racism, bodyism, and anti-artism.
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