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  Redoubt Their Mistress Is A Huntress
Year: 2019
Director: Matthew Barney
Stars: Matthew Barney, Eleanor Bauer, K.J. Holmes, Laura Stokes, Anette Wachter, Sandra Lamouche Yellowhorn
Genre: WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Diana the Goddess of the Hunt (Anette Wachter) is making her way through the forest and has stopped with her Calling Virgin (Eleanor Bauer) and Tracking Virgin (Laura Stokes) to set up camp for the night, she sleeping in a tent while a fire crackles nearby, and the virgins sharing a hammock tied between two trees. There they assume various odd, gymnastic positions as they slumber, but now Diana is awake, it is time for them to get up as well and continue their pursuit. Meanwhile an artist and tracker (Matthew Barney) works on his engravings in his customised trailer home with his partner (K.J. Holmes) who electroplates the results in a makeshift bath in the sink...

And they are headed on a collision course! If that sounds all very high octane and riveting, then think again, for Redoubt was made as an accompaniment to an art installation piece which showed off artist Barney's various sculptures and two-dimensional works, some of which were in this film. Without seeing that show, as most watching this would not have, it was difficult to assess if doing so would enhance the experience as a whole, but as a standalone piece there were superficial pleasures in seeing the majestic landscape of Idaho's mountains, here blanketed in Winter snow and dotted with wild animals, some of which our representative of Greek myth's Diana is going to have in her rifle sights.

For those who stuck with the credits right to the end, maybe entranced by Jonathan Bepler's experimental music, they would find the reassuring note to animal lovers (and possibly legal teams) that no creatures were harmed in the process of making the film, and all the death we saw was staged, and pretty convincingly at that. Diana's stalking through the forest with her attendants is compared with the natural world's predators versus prey scenario, and over and over she is compared with such meat eaters as eagles and wolves (and magpies) to emphasise what she was doing was part of the accustomed order of things. But what exactly did this have to do with the myths Barney was supposedly dredging up? Even if you had heard her story, that may be a stretch for the imagination.

The one about Diana and Actaeon was apparently what we were presented with, and though her two nymphs (actually a pair of flexible dancers) are seen bathing at one stage, they are not surprised by the engraver at any point, so presumably this has happened at some other time. That does not stop the Goddess exacting her revenge, however, as she commands her wolves to upset his applecart in the final scenes, though any metamorphosis is left to the imagination. See what I mean? This was so vague in relation to what it was intended to be picking up on you felt as if there was a secret meaning to all of it that you were missing, and perhaps there was, Barney after all relished his symbolism and oblique references, but two-and-a-quarter hours of it was a bit of a test for those who were not fully invested in the artist. Nonetheless, it did captivate in its visuals, occasionally turning into acrobatics and ballet (and hula hoop dancing), but never quite landing the knockout blow.

[Click here to watch on MUBI.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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