July 26, 2011

Azuloscurocasinegro (Spain 2006)

Daniel Sánchez Arévalo's 2006 debut "Azuloscurocasinegro" is - along with Cedric Klapisch's "L'Auberge Espagnole" (2002), Joachim Trier's "Reprise" (2006) and a few others - one of the films that accurately portrayed the young generation of 20-somethings growing up in Europe after the year 2000. My generation, to be specific. A generation that, overwhelmed by the endless opportunities it apparently has, seems to be somehow lost...

"Azuloscurocasinegro" translates as dark blue, almost black and refers to the suit that Jorge, the main character in the film, sees in the shop windows everyday. The suit represents a better life for the young business graduate who works as a janitor while at the same time taking care of his handicapped father. When his ex-girlfriend returns home and his fresh-out-of-prison brother asks him to impregnate his still imprisoned girlfriend, things get even more complicated. This may sound quite silly to you while you're reading it and indeed the script feels a little forced and improbable at times. But against all odds the film works very well and feels more true to life than most other films that have a more realistic plotline. The reason for this is that the characters are taken more seriously here than the plot. Or to emphasize the point even more, the characters create the plot, as it always should be.

Daniel Sánchez Arevalo shows a lot of talent in his first feature. He mostly avoids the pitfalls of clichés, silly jokes and an overdose of sentimentality. Instead he finds a good balance between entertainment and seriousness. The film feels fresh and unforced which is also the result of the natural performance he gets out of his strong cast. But there is even more that sets the film apart. In contrast to most other contemporary European films, the director and his cinematographer decided to shoot the film in Cinemascope which leads to some beautiful compositions and gives it a much more cinematic feel than one would expect from a small film like that.

Almodóvar may get all the credit on the international festival circuit but there are some other promising directors working in Spain at the moment. Julio Medem is one of them, and Daniel Sanchez Arévalo is now too.


The lost generation: Quim Gutiérrez, Eva Pallarés

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