The Mexican director Carlos Reygadas has made just three films, beginning with Japon and Battle in Heaven, but he's already giving signs of becoming the next Bergman. (And God knows the current cinema is in desperate need of a first-rate moral thinker.) Reygadas' sober studies of quietly anguished characters grappling with faith, weakness and responsibility have a primeval quality that's somehow also completely contemporary. His latest, Silent Light, centers on an adulterous affair in a remote Mennonite community. Decidedly more austere than pulpy -- Biblical rather than noirish -- the movie unfolds in the wide-open spaces of rural Mexico as a rumination on isolation and connection. Silent Light won a prize at Cannes, probably for its visual panache and formal elegance, but its themes of empathy and acceptance in a religious setting have particular resonance in a period of rising fundamentalism. Reygadas has a philosopher's mind and a pragmatist's soul, a combination that makes for mysterious, challenging and unexpectedly profound movies. Unlike Bergman, though, he doesn't go in for raging torrents of dialogue, and it will be interesting to see what he's like in person when he returns to San Francisco to introduce Silent Light.
Thu., Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m., 2007