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Jill Magid The Proposal Review


The Proposal | Review

The Proposal | Review

Bargaining for Barragan: Artist Jill Magid Offers Mystery-Thriller-Docu

Jill Magid The Proposal ReviewJill Magid is the director, subject, narrator, but above all else, she is a provocateur of a stirring docu-thriller. Following her own quest for access to the archives of famed Mexican architect Luis Barragan, The Proposal is epistolary format that works to Magid’s advantage, and reaches a zenith when the filmmaker finally achieves an in-person meeting with the elusive Swiss rights holder—with a surprise in tow. Visually hypnotic, The Proposal is an unpredictable slow burn that envelops the viewer frame by frame.

The film opens on beautiful shots of Barragan’s architecture. In another version of the film, more time would have been spent learning about this mysterious man. But here the focus is placed more on the timeline of his death, the purchase of his archives by a Swiss company called Vitra, and the ensuing events. Magid reaches out to Federica Zanco in hopes of getting access to the archive for a show, but she’s shut out. What follows is a dogged pursuit that culminates in a highly controversial act. Magid puts on a very public show of it all, garnering headlines that call her project ‘grotesque’, ‘desecration’ and even ‘necrophilia.’ However the titular scene plays out from afar, through a glass-paned restaurant. The voyeuristic approach makes their bewildered reactions more cinematic, than say a Michael Moore style confrontation.

Jarred Alterman’s (Bisbee ’17) cinematography is a highlight, which combined with Magid’s calming narration, makes for a total ASMR experience. It’s easy to get hypnotized by shots such as the mesmerizing close-up of two workers’ hands breaking into the cement grave where the urn is stored, as a legion of ants come scurrying out, and the red dust from the clay puffs up in a symbolic omen of sorts.

The editing by Hannah Buck is meant to entrance, lingering on visual elements both sublime and eerie. We rarely see Magid on screen, with the exception of one contemplative shot of her sitting against one of Barragan’s structures. Her obsession is conveyed through her (possibly unreliable) narration throughout. The story is told from her point of view, and through Federica’s letters, and their relationship evolves over the course of the story into something bizarrely romantic.


New York City based, Matt Delman contributes coverage for and Hammer To Nail for Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, TIFF and many of the New York festivals and film series. He also runs social media ad campaigns for indie films under his 3rd Impression banner. His top 3 theatrical releases of 2018: Cold War, Eighth Grade, & Bisbee ‘17.

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