• Studio: Tartan
  • Release Date: Feb 17, 2006

Mixed or average reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 18
  2. Negative: 2 out of 18
Watch On
  1. Promiscuously inhabiting several planes at once, Reygadas's restless inquisition may already be this year's movie to beat.
  2. Reygadas asks audiences to plunge headlong into his chaotic vision of the world, no questions asked but complete trust required. Not everyone is going to be willing or able to take this leap of faith, but those who do go along with Reygadas may well feel they have come away having undergone a stunning revelatory experience.
  3. Some audiences will find it an endurance test and Reygadas doesn't make it easy with his confrontational imagery, but he provokes emotions not often explored on screen.
  4. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Simultaneously shocking and deeply religious, Carlos Reygadas' follow-up to his acclaimed 2002 debut, "Japon," tells the story of one man's battle for spiritual redemption through a series of explicit images rarely seen by even the most jaded art-house audiences.
  5. 75
    Reyadas' radical rejection of filmmaking conventions is at first off-putting, but he's able to elicit remarkable performances from the cast of non-professionals while building tension that will hold viewers' attention. Love it or loathe it, you won't soon forget Battle in Heaven.
  6. Working again with Diego Martínez Vignatti, the cinematographer for "Japón," the director doesn't just seize our attention; he commands it - forcing us into a world of terror and beauty.
  7. 67
    Battle In Heaven is like a serious of artful photographs, except that Reygadas also moves the camera in astonishing and unusual ways, swooping around the conventional x- and y-axes while teasing the audience with what he's about to show. He's got an astonishing technique. Here's hoping that someday he'll use it to make a movie.
  8. 63
    With relentless and ruminative deliberateness, Reygadas shows us a Mexico City that seems to be decaying from the inside out.
  9. Reygadas is clearly out to shock us, to shake us and show us a host of furious ideas about class, gender, religion, nationality, love - really, there's very little he doesn't throw into this thickly ambiguous stew. If only he hadn't made his deliberately confusing, heavily symbolic story quite so difficult to digest.
  10. 60
    Reygadas is an undeniably important artist hewing his own path, but who is also self-consciously playing to the tastes of a tiny elite audience that craves obscurantism, confrontation and heavy-handed symbolism. Still, I really want you to see this. Then I'll have somebody to talk about it with.
  11. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    Both intensely exciting for its cinematic inventions and terribly uninvolving on emotional and dramatic levels.
  12. We may indeed yawn a bit from time to time, but we know that we are yawning in the presence of a director who is intelligently disturbed by the moral inertia he sees around him and whose future is worth watching.
  13. This is really Reygadas' show all the way. And what he's delivered is a sad, tawdry picture in which all hope for salvation lies with God.
  14. Reviewed by: Michael Ferraro
    There is an interesting set-up here for something great but Battle In Heaven never lives up to the expectations.
  15. Proves to be a disappointing turn-off. The film deliberately works against most cinematic expectations.
  16. 40
    Battle in Heaven cannot be so easily dismissed - indeed, it is that rare failed film that leaves you as eager to see what its maker will do next as you were when you walked in the door.
  17. A notorious opinion divider last year at Cannes, Battle in Heaven is less about heaven or battle, or hell on earth, or the soul of Mexico, and all too much about gawking. And so, for all the ''shock'' of the movie's clinical carnality, this battle is lost.
  18. Reviewed by: G. Allen Johnson
    A spectacular failure, despite further evidence of the director's keen eye and bold cinematic ideas.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 9 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 1 out of 6
  1. Jul 27, 2011
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Writing about a film I greatly admire, but wouldn't recommend to anyone I know, is tricky. I wouldn't want someone to see this movie on my say so, then hate me for it. It might be best to prepare people for what they'll see. Unsimulated and graphic sexual intercourse and oral sex. These scenes are far from erotic, (An obese man & a 19 year old hooker, and an obese man and his obese wife) but they form the basis of the story. The distance between the haves and the have not's/never will have's.

    It's the story of Marcos, a mild mannered driver for an Army General and his daughter. The daughter works as a prostitute part time, for reasons that never come to light. Or does she? Is Marcos imagining this because he knows it's the only way he'll ever be able to have sex with her? As the film opens, we learn that Marcos and his wife, who sells self made clocks and jams in what appears to be an airport, have kidnapped a baby for ransom, but the baby died. Marcos takes this news without emotion, he's a man beaten down by life. The scenes in which we see things from Marcos's point of view, are among the films best. In one scene, Marcos watches a family of privilege arrive home in a car Marcos will never have, dressed in clothing he'll never own, and even though he's standing five feet away, no one acknowledges his presences until two little girls call him a fat pig. Marcos dare not say a thing.

    Eventually Marcos and the Generals Daughter have sex. Or do they? Real or imagined sex aside, he views this girl as his chance at a happy life. This is made abundantly clear in the films final scene. In the hope that she will see him in a different light, see him as a good person, just see him, he tells her he's going to turn himself into the police, for his role in the kidnapping. When she responds with what could be perceived as indifference, Marcos explodes. Then a truly lost Marcos falls in with a procession of religious pilgrims. That may sound heavy handed, but it's not. We're made aware of the pilgrims earlier in the film.

    I would have loved to have been at the premier of the film to count how many people walked out after the first two minutes. After watching Battle in Heaven, as well as, another of his films, Silent Light, it's clear that Mr Reygades isn't interested in the audience. I hope that never changes, because he's a visionary, and it's best to give a visionary the room they need to see.
    Full Review »
  2. JimA.
    Jul 2, 2007
    This movie was a complete failure. Sex scenes with no point and actors who don't even know how to play! Finally the end is not explain This movie was a complete failure. Sex scenes with no point and actors who don't even know how to play! Finally the end is not explain anything. I know the plot only because I read it somewhere! Full Review »
  3. ChadS.
    Apr 7, 2007
    As Marcos(Marcos Hernandez) chauffeurs Ana(Anapola Mushkadiz), the boss' daughter, who we soon learn, he covets; that dispassionate face As Marcos(Marcos Hernandez) chauffeurs Ana(Anapola Mushkadiz), the boss' daughter, who we soon learn, he covets; that dispassionate face of the general's flunkey is conspicuously framed in the rear-view mirror as he drives his client to work. Marcos appears to have other things ruminating behind his blank visage, but that rear-view mirror(also used in Brian DePalma's "Dressed to Kill") signifies the male gaze(film is largely patriarchial), and if there's a sexually active nubile in the backseat, there's desire. Daddy's little girl is a prostitute who works at an upscale whorehouse(what the Mexicans call a "boutique"). It's never made clear why this privileged girl subjects herself to the sex trade; that's just what Ana does in between the time she's a daughter and a boyfriend. "Battle in Heaven" has Catherine Breillaut's DNA all over it. This provocative film is a very good clone. The controversial woman who introduced graphic sex regularly to contemporary cinema probably wouldn't bother to explain Ana's rebellious attack on bourgeoise values either. Late in the film, there's a shocking act of violence(similar to Breillaut's "Fat Girl") which I interpreted as Marcos' anger that Ana led him into temptation. Such an idea is terribly unfair, of course, because what this implies is that a woman's body was built for sinful thoughts and men are helpless before its erotic design. Marcos makes his pilgrimage to the Basilica by inching forward on bended knees and without the benefit of sight(there's a bag covering his entire head). Since he's blind, women no longer pose a threat to his marriage vows. In the scene preceeding Ana's oral ministrations of Marcos' manhood, we see the flag of Mexico being lowered and folded away. Without the constrictions on free will that government and religion present to Marcos, he is free to prolong his sexual relationship with Ana without guilt. "Battle in Heaven" is anti-woman, but it's also rigorously intellectual. Full Review »