¡Vivan las Antipodas! (U) 108 mins ***
The phrase is “digging to China”, but in fact there are several points where one might theoretically pass through the Earth’s core and emerge on land the other side. Victor Kossakovsky’s documentary curio is essentially a high-concept exercise in matchmaking, pairing and then crosscutting between these polar opposites to illustrate how the other half lives. Stunning, NASA-precise photography maps out the similarities and differences: there’s a clear mismatch between rural Argentina and rapidly developing Shanghai, but shared agricultural interests unite Chilean Patagonia with Russia’s Lake Baikal, and Kossakovsky finds one lovely visual rhyme between Hawaii’s volcanic terrain and the hides of Botswanan elephants. A sympathy for the methods of slow cinema would help – it digs assiduously, using long takes that gradually reveal the minutiae of daily life – but its idiosyncratic gaze refuses any we-are-the-world homilies. You emerge wondering what (and who) might lie beneath your own feet.
¡Vivan las Antipodas! opens in selected cinemas from today.