For viewers of a certain formalist persuasion, there's great pleasure to this simple technique, a kind of eerie gravitational slide that at least partially fills a hole left by the departure of Béla Tarr from world cinema, but immaculately sluggish side-to-side and front-to-back movement does only so much for a movie. If there's a foundational flaw to Los Ausentes, it's that Pereda has put too much stock in the ghostly sensations invoked by his technique at the expense of developing much else.
Before having my mind frazzled by Horse Money, I was full of righteous indignation at Mexican auteur Nicolás Pereda's Los Ausentes not having been included in the main competition... The pleasures of Pereda's film are purely formal, the languorous travelling shots with which it tracks its three key locations—a house, the forest surrounding it, and a beach—producing a delight in discovering new visual details over time unusually reminiscent of James Benning.
As the film progresses, the identities of the two men seem to merge, with Pereda’s long, roaming takes simultaneously positioning the bodies of his subjects in physical proximity even as they appear to exist in parallel realities. Eventually they breach the divide, their conversations intimating a duality in their personas, yet Pereda, in a bold move, refuses to expound on the mortal intrigue of their convergence, ending at a philosophical stalemate all the more intriguing for its ambiguity.