Drama films

Review of Los Conductos – a cryptic Colombian parable | Drama films

Tits challenging Colombian parable feels like it could have been made in the 1970s, with its cryptic storytelling, witty reflections, and vivid imagery, all shot in grainy 16mm. Rejecting conventional narrative structures, its story requires some decoding and may well challenge comprehension, but its striking visual language, with vivid colors, sparse compositions, and loose associative montage, casts a spell.

Our protagonist is a bearded, long-haired young vagabond named Pinky (Luis Felipe Lozano), who we find first shooting a man, stealing a motorcycle, and then hovering in an abandoned warehouse. It turns out that he recently left a cult and killed its leader. We never see the cult in question, but in the voiceover we learn of its leader’s hold on Pinky and other outcasts: “We had been miraculously saved from a world that had always considered us worthless.”

Fragments of Pinky’s experience are presented with little distinction between the real and the imaginary. He spends time in a counterfeit T-shirt printing shop. It tells the story of an addicted beggar who believes he is in an underground parallel world. It strips the copper wire of buildings. He has a disconcerting encounter with a man (who may be an incarnation of the cult leader) in a forest, where it is not clear who will kill whom.

There are echoes here of Chilean author Alejandro Jodorowsky in the disorienting stew of metaphor and mysticism, and the sheer logically defying weirdness of it all. Lozano even bears a physical resemblance to Jodorowsky in his classic The Holy Mountain. But director Camilo Restrepo seems less preoccupied with the psychedelic spiritual quest than with comments about Colombia’s true social and political decadence. The film ends with a poem by Gonzalo Arango (which could be a key to deciphering the whole exercise) which asks: “When will Colombia stop killing its sons?” Oblique and impenetrable as it is, it is a memorable experience.

Los Conductos is available from March 11 Mubi.