FILM_REVIEWS_Pacifiction by Albert Serra

Albert Serra has done it again: Pacifiction, his latest film, is once again surprising and masterful.

When one thought that only from silence, enigma or the darkness of enjoyment poetic forms could emerge, he presents us with a colourful lost paradise, where everything is in sight: coconut trees, marines, admirals and government officials coexist with aborigines devoted to anything resembling tourism. And again, the poem emerges. 

An absurd thriller plot takes us to Polynesia, where a senior French government official, a character whose job is to do absolutely nothing -it sounds easy, but you'd have to be in his shoes- is shaken out of his sleepy routine by a rumour... As De Roller is a shy but easy-going guy who wants to be loved by his islanders, and as he has a lot of free time on his hands, he decides to investigate. The rumour is that the French government wants to carry out nuclear tests in the turquoise waters of the South Seas. 

A secret operation, by the way, not at all discreet: the island suddenly fills up with marines who, honouring their status, spend their nights in the trendiest club. Thus Paradise Night, an endearingly decadent place, with the aroma of an exclusive club for tourists looking for strong experiences -for that reason the waiters are in their underpants- becomes the dark setting for the encounters of the characters charged with carrying out the macabre operation. The contrast between the weapons of war and pacifiction -fiction in the Pacific that resonates with pacification- introduces one of the many paradoxes of the film. Today, war can be waged in peace.

De Roller is the protagonist whose point of view commands the narrative, a character who, like all the others, is a genuine exponent of the contemporary subject. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that what the film shows is the disappearance of the subject. None of them seem to be unconscious: beings without a past, without history, with hardly any discourse. They are all, in this paradise, earning money. Whether one is an admiral, another a corporal, a marine, a diplomat, a transsexual, an aborigine, a revolutionary or a prostitute is of little relevance. The differences are diluted. Capitalism -the infernal machinery of producing inequalities at dizzying speeds- has finally achieved absolute equality of subjectivity, including that of gender. Another exquisite paradox.

Thus, what appears as the height of De Roller's subjective depth is a monologue he delivers to his companion Shanna about the ratios of rationality, emotionality and sensitivity that must be combined in the decisions he is supposed to make as the important statesman he believes himself to be. A commonsensical rant in the genuine style of self-help fanfare, worthy of a post-apocalyptic hero. The pathos of his good-natured narcissism, which he would like to do good without taking off his ecru blazer -an impeccable wardrobe that he won't take off even in the rain- is indicative of this absence of the slightest connection with reality.

Irene Domínguez.