False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
|Spanish||Bardo, falsa crónica de unas cuantas verdades|
|Directed by||Alejandro G. Iñárritu|
Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths (Spanish: Bardo, falsa crónica de unas cuantas verdades), or simply Bardo, is a 2022 Mexican epic psychological black comedy-drama film co-written, co-scored, edited, produced, and directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu. The film stars Daniel Giménez Cacho alongside Griselda Siciliani, and follows a journalist/documentarian who returns to his native country of Mexico and begins having an existential crisis in the form of dreamlike visions. The title refers to the Buddhist concept of the bardo, a liminal state between death and rebirth. It is Iñárritu's first film to be fully filmed in Mexico since Amores perros in 2000.
Bardo premiered at the 79th Venice International Film Festival in competition for the Golden Lion on September 1, 2022, and was released in theaters on November 18, 2022, then streamed on Netflix on December 16, 2022. The film received polarized reviews from critics, who praised the performances, cinematography, and direction, but were divided on its writing and runtime. It received a nomination for Best Cinematography at the 95th Academy Awards.
Silverio Gama is a Mexican journalist turned documentary filmmaker living in Los Angeles with his wife, Lucía, and teenage son, Lorenzo. His work has become increasingly personal and subjective as he has grown older; his latest film, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths, is a work of docufiction with autobiographical elements. Silverio and Lucía are happy together, but they are haunted by the death of their first son, Mateo, a day after his birth. The two keep Mateo's ashes and feel unable to move on from his loss. Silverio experiences much of his day-to-day life in surreal fashion, with dreams, memories, and fantasies playing out alongside his activities. When he meets the US ambassador to Mexico at Chapultepec Castle, for instance, he envisions the events of the 1847 Battle of Chapultepec and the suicides of the Niños Héroes around him.
Silverio learns that he will be the first Latin American to receive a prestigious American award for journalism. He speculates that he is only receiving the award to ease tensions between the United States and Mexico (inflamed by negative perceptions of U.S.–Mexico migration as well as Amazon's attempts to purchase the Mexican state of Baja California), but nevertheless tries to deal with a wave of media scrutiny in his home country. He cancels an interview on a popular talk show at the last minute, reminisces about his time as a husband and father, and tries to strike a balance between attacking the problems he sees with the Mexican state and defending its people from stereotypes. Secretly, he feels guilty over emigrating to the U.S. when so many other Mexicans cannot leave.
Silverio and his family attend a party held in his honor. He reunites with his siblings and extended family, to whom he is indifferent, and his adult daughter, Camila, whom he lavishes with attention. When the talk show host scathingly criticizes Silverio's work, the filmmaker responds by insulting the host personally. Silverio eventually flees into the restroom, where he imagines reconcilliations with his deceased father and mother. When he leaves his mother's apartment, he sees symbolic representations of historic atrocities in Mexico: hundreds of people signifying those kidnapped or killed by organized crime collapse in a commercial district, and Hernán Cortés sits atop a pile of corpses in the Zócalo, lecturing Silverio about the indigenous genocide.
Before travelling back to Los Angeles, Silverio and his family vacation in Baja California, just as Amazon buys the state. Camila tells Silverio that she will quit her job in Boston to move back to Mexico, which Silverio tentatively welcomes. The family decide to scatter Mateo's ashes in the ocean before leaving for the U.S., where they are treated with contempt by a Hispanic-American customs official.
After Lorenzo reminds him of a time when his pet axolotls died, Silverio buys some as a surprise gift. On the L.A. Metro ride from the pet store (in a repeat of an earlier scene), Silverio has a violent stroke and is left unattended on the train for several hours. He languishes in a coma, and it is revealed that the events of the film so far have been his comatose brain's attempts to process his life experience. Camila accepts the award in Silverio's absence, and she and his other family members and friends sit by his bedside, holding conversations and playing songs or television broadcasts that have inadvertently affected his dreams.
In a near-featureless desert within his mind, Silverio reunites with his dead family members and ignores projections of his living family. He sees a copy of himself, which mirrors his movements for a short time before walking away. The film ends as it began, with Silverio imagining himself flying through the desert. It is unclear if he has died, reawakened, or learned to live with his baggage.
On March 22, 2020, it was reported that Alejandro G. Iñárritu would write, direct and produce a new film, to be shot in Mexico, Bradford Young as cinematographer, and Patrice Vermette as production designer. On March 9, 2021, Griselda Siciliani joined the cast, with Grantham Coleman that July.
Principal photography began on March 3, 2021, in Mexico City, with Darius Khondji as cinematographer and Eugenio Caballero as production designer, under the working title Limbo. Khondji paired the large format Alexa 65 camera with Panavision Sphero lenses, shooting almost the entirety of the film on the 17mm and the 21mm. Five months of filming were planned in other locations in the Capital and the Estudios Churubusco.
On March 4, 2021, during filming in the historic center of Mexico City, a passerby was arrested for striking a production security member. In September 2021, it was reported that the film had completed production.
Iñárritu continued editing the film after its premiere at Venice. The version screened at San Sebastián, in late September 2022, had a running time of 152 minutes, without credits, 22 minutes shorter than the one screened at Venice and Telluride. The final runtime released by Netflix was set at 160 minutes including the credits.
Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths had its world premiere at the 79th Venice International Film Festival on September 1, 2022, it was screened for the first time in the US at the 49th Telluride Film Festival. The film was also screened at the 70th San Sebastián International Film Festival, in late September, and at the 2022 AFI Fest, in late November.
It was released in theaters in Mexico on October 27, 2022, then a limited release in United States theatres on November 4 and on Netflix on December 16.
"This [film] is not self-referential. This is not narcissistic. It’s not me... If I maybe was from Denmark or if I was Swedish I would be a philosopher...You can like it or not — that’s not the discussion. But for me, there’s a kind of racist undercurrent where because I’m Mexican, I’m pretentious."
— Iñárritu on the critical reviews.
The film has received polarized reviews from critics, who praised the performances of Giménez Cacho and Siciliani, Khondji's cinematography, and Iñarritu's direction, but criticized the runtime and writing; many referred to the film as "self-indulgent" and "pretentious". On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 59% of 148 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.4/10. The website's consensus reads: "As deeply personal as it is demanding, Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths unsteadily walks the line between brilliance and sheer self-indulgence." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 55 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
In an interview with Los Angeles Times, Iñárritu, although not having read any of the reviews, believed there was a racial bias among the critics and stated that a filmmaker's expressions of themselves shouldn't be considered as self-indulgent or emulating other thematically related works.
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref.|
|Venice Film Festival||September 10, 2022||Golden Lion||Alejandro G. Iñárritu||Nominated|||
|The International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography Camerimage||November 19, 2022||Main Competition (Silver Frog)||Darius Khondji||Won|||
|FIPRESCI Award||Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths||Won|
|Chicago Film Critics Association||December 14, 2022||Best Foreign Language Film||Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths||Nominated|||
|Best Cinematography||Darius Khondji||Nominated|
|Alliance of Women Film Journalists||January 5, 2023||Best Non-English Language Film||Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths||Nominated|||
|Georgia Film Critics Association||January 13, 2023||Best Cinematography||Darius Khondji||Nominated|||
|Critics' Choice Movie Awards||January 15, 2023||Best Foreign Language Film||Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths||Nominated|||
|AARP Movies for Grownups Awards||January 28, 2023||Best Foreign Film||Nominated|||
|Satellite Awards||February 11, 2023||Best Motion Picture – International||Nominated|||
|Set Decorators Society of America Awards||February 14, 2023||Best Achievement in Decor/Design of a Contemporary Feature Film||Daniela Rojas Mont and Eugenio Caballero||Nominated|||
|Art Directors Guild Awards||February 18, 2023||Excellence in Production Design for a Contemporary Film||Eugenio Caballero||Nominated|||
|Golden Reel Awards||February 26, 2023||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Foreign Language Feature||Martín Hernández, Nicolas Becker, Ken Yasumoto, Alejandro Quevedo, Jaime Sainz, Carolina Santana, Alitzel Diaz, Daniel Douglass, Valeria López Mancheva, Raynier Hinojosa, Omar Blanco, Oscar Victoria, Pietu Korhonen, Alan Romero, Heikki Kossi, Alan Romero||Nominated|||
|American Society of Cinematographers Awards||March 5, 2023||Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases||Darius Khondji||Nominated|||
|Academy Awards||March 12, 2023||Best Cinematography||Nominated|||
|Platino Awards||April 22, 2023||Best Ibero-American Film||Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths||Nominated|||
|Best Comedy Film||Nominated|
|Best Director||Alejandro González Iñarritu||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Daniel Giménez Cacho||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay||Alejandro González Iñarritu, Nicolás Giacobone||Nominated|
|Best Art Direction||Eugenio Caballero||Nominated|
|Golden Trailer Awards||June 29, 2023||Best Foreign Trailer||"Journey" (AV Squad)||Nominated|||
|Ariel Awards||September 9, 2023||Best Picture||Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths||Pending|||
|Best Director||Alejandro González Iñárritu||Pending|
|Best Actor||Daniel Giménez Cacho||Pending|
|Best Supporting Actor||Francisco Rubio||Pending|
|Best Cinematography||Darius Khondji||Pending|
|Best Original Score||Bryce Dessner, Alejandro G. Iñárritu||Pending|
|Best Sound||Nicolas Becker, Martín Hernández, Ken Yasumoto, Frankie Montano, Jon Taylor, Santiago Núñez||Pending|
|Best Editing||Alejandro G. Iñárritu||Pending|
|Best Art Direction||Eugenio Caballero||Pending|
|Best Makeup||Lucy Betancourt||Pending|
|Best Costume Design||Anna Terrazas||Pending|
|Best Visual Effects||Guillaume Rocheron, Olaf Wendt||Pending|
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