After The Murder Of Albert Lima


Reviewed by: Mateusz Tarwacki

After The Murder Of Albert Lima
"Aengus James focuses on seemingly uninteresting moments, demythologising the cinematic imperative of searching for sensation."

Paul Lima's whole life was subordinated to one event: his father was murdered. For more than a decade, Paul has dedicated himself to dealing with the sluggishness of the Honduran – and American – justice systems, trying to find the murderer and deliver punishment. The indolence of local police forces pushed Lima towards a private crusade. After The Murder Of Albert Lima, by Aengus James, is therefore a record of a personal investigation and struggle with trauma that even revenge cannot fix.

While this scenario sounds like perfect material for an action movie or a spy story, the documentary of an American artist is something completely different. There are no spectacular chases or shootings here – instead, the camera tracks the emotions of an orphaned and injured person, and from them natural tension arises. By focusing on seemingly uninteresting moments, conversations about his next moves, action plans and Paul’s memories of his murdered father, James demythologises not only the investigator's work, but also the cinematic imperative of searching for sensation.

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How detached from reality seems the behaviour of the two hired bounty hunters, who act as if they are emotionless not because their work requires sociopathic tendencies but precisely because it is their job: boring and full of routine. They are more involved with the prospect of the next meal than with the information they have managed to get hold of. James is full of irony when he juxtaposes the calmness of bounty hunters with Lima's own commitment.

Although the torn, jumpy editing of the film harmonises with the light spirit in which the American artist takes up a difficult topic, this arrhythmic nature makes reception difficult. Viewers are unlikely to get involved in Lima's story, learning to look at the investigation as a child's stunt – prosaically, ironically and with a grain of salt. And yet the horror of losing one’s life is real in the film, the investigation can end very badly.

After The Murder Of Albert Lima is not a film that points to the shortcomings of individual justice systems, although it could focus on the ignorance of services that launch their tools only after the victim's private crusade. It is also not a film that bases its tension on great moral dilemmas or asks where the limits of revenge are, although a slight change of perspective would be enough to turn the narrative into a moralising treatise. James' work should be treated with irony and a grain of salt, as an artistic experiment, a postmodern, deconstructive game. After all, not every story has to end spectacularly.

Reviewed on: 16 Mar 2021
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A man takes an unorthodox and dangerous path in order to seek justice for the murder of his father.

Director: Aengus James

Starring: Zora Colakovic, Cindy Crim, Kent Crim, Aengus James, Harley Lima, Judy Lima, Paul Lima, Shannon Lima, Art Torres, Zora Colakovic, Cindy Crim, Kent Crim, Aengus James, Harley Lima, Judy Lima

Year: 2019

Runtime: 97 minutes

Country: US, Honduras


DOC NYC 2019

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