The relationship between a suicidal artist and an elderly widow living out in the arid Mexican wilderness grows almost without a word being spoken. While he is trying to prevent her nephew from stealing her canyon-side home, she is trying to save his soul.
Taking its symbolic title from the land of the rising sun, yet set in an arid Mexican wilderness, Carlos Reygadas' debut feature is a poignant testament to the endless resilience of the human spirit and the cruel mystery of life.
Shot in natural light on 16mm Super-CinemaScope by Diego Martinez Vignatti, it has a visual power that emphasises both our physical insignificance and our interdependence. But it's the relationship between suicidal artist Alejandro Ferretis and elderly widow Magdalena Flores that gives the film its true potency. Played out almost in silence as they approach it from diametric motives, their growing intimacy is as miraculous as it is moving.
Occasionally prone to self-conscious profundity, this is still sincerely inspirational.