Cronos is the first feature brought to us by Guillermo del Toro. Both written and directed by Guillermo, it is the story of an extraordinary device, the Cronos, that can grant eternal life to it’s owner.
Hidden inside of a figurine of an archangel, the Cronos is discovered by Jesus Gris, an antique store owner. Resembling what would best be described as a golden scarab, the device “comes to life” when picked up; it has sharp appendages that materialize and pierce the skin of the person holding it. Jesus keeps the device, but sells the figurine to De la Guardia, a man obsessed with finding this fountain of youth. De la Guardia is a sick man and is, consequently, being cared for by his nephew Angel de la Guardia (Ron Perlman). When Angel brings home the figurine sans Cronos device, De la Guardia requests a visit from Jesus. This is when De la Guardia realizes that Jesus has already used the device. Angered by this, De la Guradia explains that there are explicit rules regarding the use of the Cronos. If Jesus hands over the Cronos, De la Guardia will share the book of rules.
What ensues from here is a cat and mouse game of De la Guardia using Angel to retrieve the Cronos and Jesus trying to keep it hidden. The more Jesus uses the Cronos, the more his appetite for human blood develops. The Cronos seems to be a tool that turns it’s owner into what can only be thought of as a vampire. Jesus has become sensitive to light and he craves blood. Animal blood will not satiate his thirst; only human blood.
As with all Guillermo del Toro films, the whole movie looks beautiful, with it’s only real pop of color coming from the red worn by Aurora, Jesus’ granddaughter. Although this is a story of deception, murder and human blood drinking, overall, it feels much more like a fairy tale. Yes, more of a Grimm’s fairy tale, but a fairy tale nonetheless. As always, it is the young girl with the beautiful skin, raven hair and red clothing that is the most perceptive and open of all of the characters. Aurora never questions her grandfather’s motives, she ‘s simply always by his side, for better or worse.
This is a beautiful looking movie with a wonderfully original story and characters that are easily invested in. As the story progressed, I became more and more conflicted over what I thought wanted to happen. All of the characters, except little Aurora, are flawed human beings and watching their choices in this story of what the real cost of eternal life is, was deeply fascinating and rewarding.
Review by Lisa Fremont