Directed by Carlos Reygadas, starring Marcos Hernández, Anapola Mushkadiz, Bertha Ruiz, David Bornstien and Rosalinda Ramirez.

In his career to date Carlos Reygadas has made movies aimed at the festival scene and even won a special mention at Cannes in 2002 for his previous work 'Japon'. With 'Battle in Heaven' he seems to have immersed himself further into that scene, though possibly he will have less success with this latest effort.

A Mexican couple, Marcos and Bertha (Hernández and Ruiz), find their lives thrown into turmoil when they attempt to raise some money by kidnapping a friend's baby. In a cruel twist, the baby dies while under their guard and they are forced to consider the implications of their wrongdoings.

Marcos is clearly troubled as to whether to confess to the kidnapping or try and cover up the crime. He confesses to Ana (Mushkadiz), the daughter of the general he drives for, and embarks on a redemption-seeking journey.

The plot is basic enough and, truth be told, the entire tale could have been condensed into a 30-minute short. However, Reygadas uses different methods to portray how Marcos is being affected by the battle between his own thoughts and feelings.

He is torn between the love of his wife and his infatuation with Ana. His feelings towards both drive him in different directions and are portrayed vividly as he descends into some sort of madness.

The sex scenes are very graphic and tell an awful lot about the relationship between Marcos, Ana and his wife. Lingering shots of Marcos serve to emphasise his confusion and frailty. Everything is geared towards depicting the inner turmoil he is facing between agreeing with his wife, avoiding the call of justice or doing as Ana wishes by turning himself in.

He digs himself deeper into his moral hole and can only seek redemption through his own personal pilgrimage.

The movie is very drawn out and there are long periods of time where very little happens with no continuance of events. Some things, like the initial reasoning behind the kidnapping plot, are never fully explained and lead to much frustration.

'Battle in Heaven' will appeal only to people who go out of their way to view arthouse movies or those with a deep interest in Mexican cinema.

Patrick Kennedy