Jauja, the newest movie from Argentine filmmaker Lisandro Alonso, is a hypnotic existentialist Western about a Dane lost in 19th century Patagonia. The film was shot in boxy Academy ratio, with the image enclosed by a rounded black border that resembles an old-time picture frame. In other words, it’s the kind of off-kilter project that probably couldn’t get made without the involvement of an adventurous star—say, Danish-American Viggo Mortensen, who grew up partly in Argentina.
Mortensen—who also composed the movie’s score—stars as Gunnar Dinesen, an engineer who comes to South America with his teenage daughter in tow, only to have her elope with a local soldier. Like the film itself, the trailer is skimpy on plot, only barely hinting at the nightmarish imagery to come. It does, however, showcase some gorgeous, richly colored landscapes, courtesy of Timo Salminen, Aki Kaurismäki’s longtime cinematographer.
Jauja will open in limited release on March 20th, distributed by the forward-thinking folks at Cinema Guild.