Surrealism is quite an amazing art movement. To be able to create meaning out of elements that apparently together have no meaning at all is a strange ability. If done wrong, then the work can feel pretentious, and most of all, confusing, like a big collage of nothing. If done right, then the images and words can compel the audience to feel things they never thought they could feel. Having a little dose of surrealism here and there can be good. This is a review of Mister Limbo, a movie that tries to do surrealism in the right way.
Mister Limbo is a film directed by Robert G. Putka and stars Hugo de Sousa and Vig Norris. The film tells the story of a mysterious man who parachutes and then falls into an endless desert. However, when he lands, he knows nothing about himself or where he is. As he wanders the desert, the man finds other people who are also wandering this huge landscape. The film is very much, very thin in the plot, but it balances things out with other elements.
When you listen to the premise of Mister Limbo, the first thing that might come to your mind, if you have seen the masterpiece that is Mad Max: Fury Road, is the quote at the end of that film. The quote says. “Where must we go… we who wander this wasteland in search of our better selves?” is this quote the thing that definitely seems like a sort of source for this movie. A movie that is about life, and how we connect or not with the people that we meet on the road.
Mister Limbo is clearly trying to say a lot about the way we behave as a person throughout the period of time we call our lives. Are you a bad person? Do you offend, hurt, and humiliate the people around you with purpose? Do you enjoy being like that? Then it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you if people treat you the same way or worse when you have a need for them. Life is a wasteland; there is no particular path to choose, but we must make the choice.
It is this choice, the one that will tell us just how much we can enjoy life and how much we will receive from it. The wasteland in the movie functions in the same way as this quote from Fury Road. It is way on the nose, but the symbolism ends up working anyway. The actors’ performances make it so, by moving the story along from subject to subject. The injection of humor is also very welcome and makes the movie not fall into pretentious territory. Instead, it makes the film feel kind and cozy.
Nevertheless, the film might be a bit too thin when it comes to its plot. It isn’t very long into the film when things start feeling a bit repetitive, and while the message is powerful and joyful, the execution of the idea feels a bit undercooked. At times, it feels like the movie should have been better as a form of a short film, or at least as an episode of a show like The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. Instead, the film just keeps going and going, and it makes 90 minutes feel like an eternity.
The pacing can be an issue, and the plot or lack thereof can also feel repetitive, but the epic landscape and the performances are enough to keep you watching if you have the patience. For members of the audience looking for a movie that is a bit more traditional, Mister Limbo will feel like torture. If at least there was something else besides the message when it comes to narrative weight, the movie could at least also work for people not looking for art cinema.
This lack of narrative conflict makes each of the encounters feel more like tiny sketches. It would have been great to get them all in a separate format, in the form of a web show, or something more experimental. Quentin Dupieux also found himself in the same limbo earlier in his career with movies that felt more like a concept or a situation than a proper story. This type of filmmaking is quite fascinating, but the feeling that the concept jumped a few steps before becoming a film is very real.
Mister Limbo isn’t a bad film, far from it. It is very well shot, and all the performances are quite solid. De Sousa really manages to feel like both an everyday man and also some weird creature from another place, but all these things might not be enough to make the film successful with the more casual audiences.
As it is, the film feels like a nice experiment that needed a bit more time in the script phase before jumping into the making of a feature film. There are fantastic ideas here, but this might not have been the proper format for this kind of story. Nevertheless, very specific parts of the audience will find something here to enjoy.