I got the impression from the Locarno audience that many found the film weighted down by its existential ramblings, but for me it held together as a methodical descent into nothingness, in which characters, genre tropes, and designations of status disappear one by one, leaving an ongoing discussion of just what remains to be the film's center in their absence. Doesn't hurt that Simon Roca's photography is astonishingly beautiful, either.
The gods are in revolt, and the sky blackens. The downward spiral through the seas is akin to the decaying spirit in the ship: as the earth claimed the visitors’ bodies on the Bitch Islands, the sea claims the souls of the wretched, until Magloire, the last soul is lost among the Azores, his bones drying up and becoming part of the salt of the earth. This fierce poetry is set against the background of a beautifully shot, unforgiving sea, with Ossang’s trademark expressionist black and white.
The whole thing is consistently overtly ridiculous. Boys playing dress-up... a start-stop rhythm thwarting base genre pleasures, and constant anarcho-charlatan pontificating give the voyage a scent of funhouse-fandom charade. Yet wrapped as it is in that oneiric slow pull common to the films of Chilean fabulist Raúl Ruiz and punctuated with a zany, near-crazed freedom that seems truly punk, these dual impulses of sinister gravity and the flippant play somehow magically live one inside the other.