Review: ‘The Back of God’

A daring but ultimately disappointing low-budgeter about doomed love, Pablo Llorca's fourth feature, "The Back of God," starts out strong but declines into implausibility despite a winning central perf from Isabel Ampudia. Llorca's auteur ambitions are let down by occasional mind-numbing repetitiveness and consistently wobbly pacing.

A daring but ultimately disappointing low-budgeter about doomed love, Pablo Llorca’s fourth feature, “The Back of God,” starts out strong but declines into implausibility despite a winning central perf from Isabel Ampudia. Llorca’s auteur ambitions are let down by occasional mind-numbing repetitiveness and consistently wobbly pacing. Likeliest fate is the odd fest showing.

Rosa (Ampudia) works in a bar in a poor neighborhood of Madrid. She falls for a plumber, Ivan (Alberto Jimenez), and soon she is paying for both his keep and his increasingly pricey gambling habit. When Ivan gets into financial problems with buddy Raul (Pedro Casablanc), Rosa rents out her apartment to local prostitutes to cover the bank loan. Five years on, further humiliations, including a spell in jail, await Rosa — all in the name of an amour fou that’s both inexplicable and unlikely, especially given Jimenez’s flat perf as the object of her desire. Pic was shot on digital video, which lends it a gritty air, but some scenes are so low-lit that it’s hard to figure what’s going on.

The Back of God

Spain

Production

A Nirvana release of a Wanda Vision/La Cicatriz production, with participation of TVE. Directed, written by Pablo Llorca.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Crespo Perez; music, Ricardo Llorca. Reviewed at Cine Renoir, Madrid, June 6, 2001. Running time: 132 MIN.

With

Isabel Ampudia, Alberto Jimenez, Pedro Casablanc, Luis Miguel Cintra.
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