Review: ‘Eternity Never Surrendered’

Hot Docs 2018

3 mins read

Eternity Never Surrendered
(Mexico, 93 min.)
Dir. Daniela Rea Gómez
Programme: Made in Mexico (International Premiere)


This review means no disrespect to the dead, but spare yourself 73 minutes of intolerable pain and skip this documentary. Eternity Never Surrendered, which inexplicably took the #1 spot in the Hot Docs Audience Award rankings on the fourth day of the festival, is a tedious exercise in pain and misery. The doc has its heart in the right place, but it’s one of several examples at the fest this year for the argument that subject matter alone cannot carry a film. This story needs more gravitas.

The film tackles the complex and doc-worthy fact that over 30,000 Mexicans have gone missing since the increased militarization of the government. There are countless more victims left by the families shattered since the disappearance of their loved ones. These people have no closure, only heartache, as they wait in anxious hope that their husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters return home after years of painful absence.

Eternity Never Surrendered is the story of two families torn apart by such violence. Alicia, 38, describes life growing up knowing her parents only through photographs. Both guerrilla fighters in the Dirty War, Alicia’s mother disappeared when the girl was just a baby and her father was killed in action around the same time. Lilian, a young mother, tells of losing her husband to organized crime in 2010 and now raises their son in a cloud of grief and emptiness.

The two women reflect upon pain and sadness while fleeting Terrence Malick styled images offer cutaways of visual fancy. The Malickian meandering offers pointless images and some utterly random vignettes, such as an extended take of a mourner eating cereal alone. These stories intersect in fleeting, often incomprehensible fragments of memory and recollection. Grief, suffering, and misery saturate the film as Eternity Never Surrendered offers ellipses within ellipses as time passes with transitory haziness. This doc is an exercise in unrelenting misery and makes the bleak films of Alejandro González Iñárritu seem like cheery episodes of Sesame Street by comparison.

The tragedy is that one can’t connect to Eternity Never Surrendered on any emotional level since it is so bleak and detached. Oh my goodness, is this film ever boring!

Eternity Never Surrendered screens:
-Sun, May 6 at 3:00 PM at Scotiabank

Hot Docs runs April 26 to May 6. Please visit for more info.



Pat Mullen is the publisher of POV Magazine. He holds a Master’s in Film Studies from Carleton University where his research focused on adaptation and Canadian cinema. Pat has also contributed to outlets including The Canadian Encyclopedia, Paste, That Shelf, Sharp, Xtra, and Complex. He is the vice president of the Toronto Film Critics Association and an international voter for the Golden Globe Awards.

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