Dance Of Reality, film review: Alejandro Jodorowsky makes a magical comeback

(15) Alejandro Jodorowsky, 130 mins. Starring: Brontis Jodorowsky, Pamela Flores, Jeremías Herskovits
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Dance of Reality is an unexpected delight. Four decades on from El Topo and The Holy Mountain, the films that established his name, cult Chilean director Jodorowsky had seemed a spent force, a director more interested in his cats and in his Tarot cards than in making movies.

It is therefore all the more gratifying that his new feature shows such zest and such extraordinary visual imagination. It is heartfelt, too, an autobiographical story told in magical-realist fashion reminiscent of Federico Fellini's Amacord. Jodorowsky himself appears on screen several times as a magician/narrator, conjuring up his own past, "searching" for his old self in memoires and fantasies.

This is the story of a doe-eyed boy, Alejandro, who lives with his stern, Stalin-loving father Jaime (played by the director's own son, Brontis) and with his voluptuous, opera-singing mother. The family is Jewish. Jaime is acutely conscious of the anti-Semitism that lurks not very far beneath the surface, one reason why he behaves with such machismo and insists his son does likewise.

The storytelling is episodic, heavy on dream-like symbolism and on the sprawling side. But even in its more fantastical and whimsical moments, the film has trenchant points to make about fascism and inequality. The polemics are counterbalanced by the director's trademark lyricism and playfulness.