A too-rare example in Spanish cinema of an elegant, unshowy drama that’s entertaining, thought-provoking, and emotionally satisfying, “Other Days Will Come” shows helmer Eduard Cortes consolidating the skills that made 2003’s “Nobody’s Life” so memorable. Fare aimed at mature auds, but not remotely nostalgic, pic weaves a deft tale of midlife morality from the fiber of everyday matters, breathing life into its contempo issues via two striking perfs from a well-matched Cecilia Roth and Antonio Resines. The offshore arthouse circuit could take a look, with remake potential in the universality of the pic’s warm humanity.
The life of divorced schoolteacher Alicia (Roth) is slowly coming apart under the watchful eye of her daughter, Vega (Nadia de Santiago), who’s in her class — and whose friend Ana (Reyes Calzado) is suffering from cancer. She’s drinking too much, can’t sleep and is meeting men who are obviously unsuitable. Her relationship with her Alzheimer’s-suffering father, Lucas (Fernando Guillen), is deteriorating.
Following a series of pornographic Internet chats with 17-year-old Zak (Nacho Aldeguer), she reluctantly agrees to meet the youngster.
After being interrupted by a cop when they’re about to have sex in her car, Alicia calls a halt to things, whereupon Zak bursts into her class threatening to kill himself. When Ana is rushed to hospital, we see Luis (Antonio Resines) coming out through the front gates, driving home and weeping. The camera reveals he is not Ana’s father, but Zak’s — the young man has indeed killed himself.
There are a couple of dramatic stutters in getting the beautifully neat, morally complex setup into place among the surviving characters, but pic achieves the potent conclusion it deserves, one that borders on the sentimental but is consistent with everything that’s happened previously.
Roth is radiant as the often girlishly self-centered Alicia, playing her as someone aware she’s doing the wrong thing but unwilling to sacrifice herself to a dull life. (The Argentine thesp plays a Spaniard with no trace of an accent.)
Resines, Spanish cinema’s finest emotionally damaged middle-aged man, has not done such good work since the late Ricardo Franco’s “Lucky Star” in 1997, playing a similar role here as an emotionally simple, goodhearted and timid widower bemused by the blows life has dealt him.
The script is delicate in its handling of the themes of teenage and middle-aged isolation (further compounded by Internet chatrooms) and the need, sometimes, to deliberately forget.
Pic is rounded out with moments of gentle humor, mostly centering around the plastic gnomes Luis imports. Attempts to tie in its themes with an in-class reading of “The Odyssey,” however, strain toward sham intellectualism.
Lensing by Jose Luis Alcaine is crisp and direct, whether bringing out the beauty of rain on a lotus leaf or emphasizing Roth’s inner light, while Xavier Capellas’ reflective score underlines the mood at gentler moments. The title is a reference to a Neruda poem.