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MAN FACING SOUTHEAST

    

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Feb. 17, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: A Blu-ray upgrade was given to this Spanish film last year by the niche label Kino Lorber. Here’s my June 10, 1987, Deseret News review.

“Man Facing Southeast” has an intriguing premise and is very much what mainstream American audiences think of as an “art” film: slow-moving, slightly pretentious, often abstract.

Doctor Denis, a psychiatrist at a mental institution in Buenos Aires, is informed that there seems to be an extra patient in the ward. At first Denis suspects the patient, who calls himself Rantes, is being chased by police and plans to use the hospital as a hiding place – especially when Rantes relates his story, claiming to be a visitor from another planet.           

Denis is curious, and comes to genuinely care for Rantes, but tries to keep the relationship professional at first. Soon, however, he finds himself wondering if Rantes might not be telling the truth.

    

Meanwhile, day after day, Rantes stands in the hospital courtyard, holding still for hours, always in the same position, facing southeast. This is how he receives transmissions from his superiors, he explains.

“Man Facing Southeast” is an easy-going film, a soft-sell, though it is rather blatant about its Christ imagery, and is most humorous in the way the irreligious Denis takes in what he sees.

But the audience may not be quite sure what to think. There is an odd scene early on where Rantes uses telekinetic powers to move dishes in a diner, which would seem to indicate that he really is an extraterrestrial. But later there are moments geared more toward making us wonder.

    

The film as a whole might have been more effective if we had no more physical evidence of Rantes’ claims than does the good doctor.

At the same time, however, the movie is loaded with wonderful little touches, lyrical, humorous or tender moments that are rather mesmerizing.

Obviously not for all audiences, “Man Facing Southeast” (rated R for a steamy sex scene, hospital gore, some profanity and destructive violence) is nonetheless quite a thought-provoking, touching film.