Endless Poetry may sound like a threat, but it’s the follow-up to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 2013 musical-fantasia-autobiography The Dance of Reality.
This time, the Chilean director waxes all lyrical-phantasmagorical over his coming of age as a poet in Santiago. But, for all its daze-and-haze—a magic-surrealist theatricality, as if Neruda and Garcia Lorca collaborated with Buñuel and Fellini—the film often offers clunking scenes that are like bad verse: in your face and self-indulgent.
Young Alejandro moves south from Tocopilla to the capital city with his parents: severe father Jaime (Bronte Jodorowsky, the director’s older son), determined that his son will go to medical school and not be a “faggot” artist, and plaintively trilling mother Sara (Pamela Flores).
The movie stalls when Alejandro (Adan Jodorowsky, the director’s younger son) becomes a poet and puppeteer, hanging out with other artists and entangling himself in a feverish relationship with Stella Díaz Varín (Flores again, Freud-ly). Scenes can be operatically overwrought or come off as the kind of blatant sex-farce dreams that are only fascinating to the dreamer. Men in a bar are about to rape Alejandro when Stella bares her breasts, declaring, “Bow before the vengeful vagina!”; the flame-haired Stella offers the prophecy that, “I am saving my hymen for a man with a divine face who will descend from the mountains.” ¡Ay, Dios mío!
There’s a puerile machismo running through Endless Poetry—from near-rape to its simplified women. It continues to be raggedly episodic, too, especially when Alejandro and his newfound friend, Enrique Lihn, become poet-provocateurs.
More humour might’ve helped. Briefly, a bigtop clown-act (Alejandro’s trying to laugh away his pain) gets intriguingly political, only to become a poet’s ego-trip again. And the poetry itself? Reduced to pithy lines recited with a flourish.
The climax, at least, featuring three generations of Jodorowskys, returns us to the fierce psychological battle between father and son. But, in the end, unlike the best surrealism, Jodorowsky’s film doesn’t confound and entrance, instead dancing and prancing pompously about, in showpiece after show-off-piece, eager to seem like art. It’s not endless, but it can often seem insufferable.