Review: ‘Go!’

The first full-length Basque-language feature to be made in 13 years, Telmo Esnal and Asier Altuna's lively but deja vu "Go!" feels in many ways to have beenmade before that. An efficient, unpretentious and unexciting farce about the wannabe mayor of a local pueblo forced to hole up at home for a month, the film runs happily enough through a series of retro comedy motifs in a style that harks back to '70s Eurolaffers, with any offshore interest probably coming more from its curiosity value than from intrinsic merits.

The first full-length Basque-language feature to be made in 13 years, Telmo Esnal and Asier Altuna’s lively but deja vu “Go!” feels in many ways to have beenmade before that. An efficient, unpretentious and unexciting farce about the wannabe mayor of a local pueblo forced to hole up at home for a month, the film runs happily enough through a series of retro comedy motifs in a style that harks back to ’70s Eurolaffers, with any offshore interest probably coming more from its curiosity value than from intrinsic merits.

Patricio Etxebeste (Ramon Aguirre), planning to run for mayor in a Basque pueblo, is about to go on vacation when he hears from his bank that he’s been left penniless. Realizing his candidacy is doomed if the news gets out, but now without the cash to get away, Patricio stays at home in secret with his family, hi-falutin wife Maria Luisa (Elena Irureta); grumpy father Luziano (Paco Sagarzazu), who is determined that the family’s run-down old textiles factory be revived; and son Inaki (Iban Garate).

Subsequent action is largely confined to their apartment, with humor playing as earthy farce. There is no food in the fridge: Hence Luziano invents a device for trapping pigeons, and the days of the neighbor’s hated cat are numbered.

In the closest that pic comes to poetry, Patricio decides it would be best for them to pretend they’re on vacation, so they arrange the lighting, spread out towels in the living room, and presto. A necessary injection of pace comes with the arrival of two burglars (top-flight Spanish thesps Luis Tosar and Guillermo Toledo, cameoing).

Thesping is appropriately upbeat, but there are few opportunities to escape stereotype. Pic is good on the backbiting dynamics and small, surreal absurdities of pueblo life, but viewers expecting even the slightest allusion to political problems of the Basque country will be disappointed by the script’s play-safe policy – though this is probably a wise choice commercially. (There may be a political point to the fact the Spanish thesps do not speak, but that would be stretching it.)

The mostly juvenile humor is sharpest when blackest, with a couple of scenes designed to upset the politically correct, vegetarians especially.

Go!

Spain

Production

An Irusoin/Alokatu production with the participation of EITB, Canal Plus. (International sales: Media Luna, Cologne, Germany.) Produced by Jose Maria Lara, Inaki Gomez. Directed by Telmo Esnal, Asier Altuna. Screenplay, Esnal, Altuna, Pablo Bueno.

Crew

Camera (color), Javi Aguirre; editor, Pite Pinas; music, Javi Pez; art director, Pello Villalva; sound (Dolby Digital), Pablo Bueno. Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (Zabaltegi), Sept. 22, 2005. Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Ramon Aguirre, Elena Irureta, Paco Sagarzazu, Iban Garate, Inake Irastorza, Patxi Gonzalez. (Basque dialogue)
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