Southland Tales

Southland Tales ★★★★½

Richard Kelly's much maligned follow-up to Donnie Darko can best be described as utterly self-indulgent. The meandering narrative functions somewhat similarly to Magnolia, but is riddled with flaws and inconsistencies. Fortunately for Kelly, his sprawlingly layered, dense thematic exploration overshadows those deficiencies as well as the borderline cringe-worthy performances completely. The foremost layer of social commentary is overtly political and delivered so heavy-handedly it induces eye-rolling. So much so that people seem to take it at face value, judging it harshly as such, without delving deeper, where the subtle Biblical allusions and more complex metaphysical questions are expertly buried. There's so much going on here that it reminds me a bit of Mr. Nobody, which is my most hated film ever. What separates the two is the auteuristic touch Kelly interweaves his ideas with and the shockingly absurdist tone he employs to ratchet up the satire and squeeze out some genuinely hilarious moments without threatening the thematic weight... There's a chance I'll feel vastly different after a second viewing, which I'll be doing probably tomorrow, but as of now I absolutely love this film.

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