Shot digitally, the black and white tones are often flat, though Diaz retains his expert sense of composition. Blocking is sloppy. At one point, the ropes binding a poet being tortured slip off and it’s minutes before one of the members of the militia bothers to somewhat lazily wind them back around the victim. . . . The urgency is palpable, but Season lacks the depth and texture of Diaz’s previous work.
Diaz gives the songs the time they need for the words and melodies to wrench the gut. Because this movie is indeed gut-wrenching sad. In the story, song—and the words within—seem the only power with which people can fight unjust power. Yet that power has the same tools at its disposal, so saying words—and, just as important for us in the audience, listening to words—becomes an act of, variously, oppression, mystification, anguish, a call to arms, and an expression and communing of consciousness.
The comparative lack of incident and the slowness – exacerbated by the moody, often repetitive songs – mean that even Diaz acolytes may find this harder going than some of his longer but more narratively driven work. It’s a film of boldness and considerable beauty, but without the potential to find wider audiences enjoyed by his Norte, the End of History or his 2016 Venice Golden Lion winner The Woman Who Left.