Jonathan and Leandro Taub take their audience on a grim journey of realisation of how wanting power and uncountable wealth can lead to devastating consequences, not for the person seeking it, but for everyone else on the planet. Externo is a stark wake-up call of a film that has to be seen.
A revolutionary businessman named Joseph (Leandro Taub) tries to conquer the world with $2,000.
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s influence is rife throughout Externo, be it from how Taub presents Joseph to how they tackle the idea of how money controls everything. Money is power, and as we watch Joseph take those first steps with just $2000 and manipulate his way with selling apartments to make sure leaders of countries he helped get elected, thanks to his financial backing, do what they are told and more. It becomes fascinating and notably different; there won’t be a film that details such a journey and one that feels as believable as Externo does here. The Taub brothers have taken the surreal and charisma from Jodorowsky and made it their own, that ball has been taken, and they have run far with it and brilliantly so.
What captures you during Externo is how it is non-stop, from how the narrative pushes forward relentlessly, much how those gaining wealth would never find a moment to stop; they have to keep going, to make more money, to have more power. Economics has never been as interesting, and down the line, if this isn’t shown as a method of education, then that school or teacher has done something wrong.
As Joseph’s plan takes shape, it is all done via a mobile phone as he wanders around a derelict warehouse; the juxtaposition to what we hear and see on screen is startlingly entrancing. Perhaps it is due to the minimal amount we see on screen; there are no board rooms with big meetings or dramatic scenes of the deals going through. No, here it is as simple as you like and with such a compelling lead.
The aspect ratio is at an insanely narrow 3:55:1 will test your appreciation for Externo, here it works wonders as we come to learn the reasons or implied reasons for it. Joseph has a complete idea and scope of his and our world. He can see everything and anything. But we are watching him, and as we watch him in that warehouse, we only see some of the picture. Quite literally, as he navigates around, we see what he wants us to see. Even as he roughly explains it to us, this restriction in our understanding allows for the film to lead you not so merrily along, with us having no choice but to comply. Will some hate this narrowed aspect? Of course, but you should endeavour to stick with it.
Leandro Taub sizzles here as a man who can manipulate the world on a whim to make the impossible happen. Yet, he lacks empathy for all of the cold and calculated moves he makes to progress his fortune and power. This is shown with his relationship with the woman that we keep veering back to as Joseph keeps losing more and more of himself searching for power; he loses what others would view as the more vital criteria of being human. As his world becomes darker, we realise how little we want of it and see that manipulating anyone who stands in his way is positively inhumane. But that’s the point, and it is hammered home with perfect precision here.
This is as bold a film as you will see about this subject. The Big Short wishes it could have done this if we are honest. At the same time, the way the information is presented to the audience will split them, with some tossing it away due to the masterful aspect ratio and the jumping timeline. But for those who stick with Externo, it becomes a masterful piece of cinema and is as unique as they come.
Externo is available to view in festivals around the world with no set scheduled release date. Have a look below at the films website to see if it will be at a festival near you this summer.
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