Atarrabi and Mikelats (NYFF 2020); Grade: B
Strictly Films welcomes you back to more coverage of this years New York Film Festival! Our next film on the block: Atarrabi and Mikelats.
Atarrabi and Mikelats tells a story about a couple brothers named Atarrabi (Saia Hiriart) and Mikelats (Lukas Hiriart). The two brothers were birth by the Goddess Mari, whom left the boys to be raised by the devil. As the boys have grown older, Mikelats tends to stay where he’s at and be the devils protégé. While Atarrabi on the other hand wants to flee this place, as he wants to endure of life following the word of God. As Atarrabi moves forward onto the monastery, Atarrabi gets denied to become a monk as he can’t cast a shadow, in which the devil is in full control of having his shadow. Witness a brother whom is determine to follow the light of God, though all signs want to lead him back to where he was with Mikelats.
I adored the Cinematography in this film, it’s an extremely beautiful looking film that looks completely authentic to the time period in which this film takes place in. As this film is telling a fable of some kind, it’s worth noting that the film at times can look like a moving portrait, one of my favorite parts of this film by far. There’s not really a Composed Score in this film, however there is sequences of music that truly delivered. Love the dancing sequence scene, not only an exciting sequence of dancing but terrific music as well, also worth noting the singing by the group of men and women were pretty good as well.
The cast all in all were pretty good as a whole. Saia Hiriart playing Atarrabi played a pretty good performance, complimented the emotions this character was going through the process, of getting granted his shadow so he can get accepted the life as a Monk. Of course Atarrabi by far is the best character in the film, as this character is fully developed and has a lot of depth to him as well. This character becomes a frustrating time to endure, simply because no matter how determined nor how proven Atarrabi is to be a follower of Christ, he just can’t get his shadow. Lukas Hiriart playing his brother Mikelats had a solid performance as well, although his evil facial expressions were kind of goofy I do say. I’m surprised how little character development is made, however it’s clear Mikelats has been entitled towards this lifestyle since he was a child, so I guess it makes sense.
I do have a couple flaws for this film. It’s worth noting this film in a couple moments, did not do a good job in covering Atarrabi’s shadow. Yes majority of the film we do not see Atarrabi’s shadow, however in a couple scenes whether it be walking with a mule or the church scene at the end, we did see a shadow appeared. I have mixed feelings about the ending, just because Atarrabi’s religious journey was soon coming to Atarrabi realizing he doesn’t need the required requirements to live the life of good. That the light of God can be within himself, as he doesn’t need a shadow to prove he is following the life of Christ. With that ending it’s kind of confusing just because where this character was going, it does make somewhat sense due to his devotion towards God, however I thought much differently.
Though conflicted by the ending: I throughly enjoyed Atarrabi and Mikelats. The story at times can be a little over the top, regarding the singing women turning into dwarfs or Atarrabi encountering this cave like man figure. However it is a story that is not only engaging start to finish, but brings a different way into following God. Sometimes I think to myself: Do we really need to be entitled to living a life, according to everything the Bible says, in order for God to accept us for who we are?! I mean if we’re following a life, in which were only meant to be doing the right thing and to be a good individual, why should it matter if we don’t necessarily fill it the other “required” blank spots? Sure Atarrabi doesn’t cast a shadow in which is a requirement to follow a life as a monk, but why does that matter?! I mean Atarrabi is only doing terrific things, including saving a town, saving a family from harm, and even curing a sick child. As yet Atarrabi still does not get the deserved privilege to cast a shadow, so he can fully live the life he wanted to live as a Monk... How does that make any sense?!
Sometimes in my opinion the Bible can feel a bit contradicting, but then again it was written by not God thyself, but by man so who really knows if what it says is correct by the word of God. I’m not dismissing the Bible nor disrespecting people’s religions, I’m just saying if people in Atarrabi’s case in which follows the life of Christ, but can’t get accepted to follow it due to not casting a shadow... How does this make any sense?! Though conflicted by the ending, it does make sense because that’s how it feels like. Definitely a strong thought revoking fable, as this can bring up great conversation on what it all really means.
Overall, Atarrabi and Mikelats is a rock solid film. I recommend checking this one out, a lot to admire, appreciate, as well as well written story as well. -Mitch Smietana