Review: ‘Caracremada’

Close-ups play the key role in tyro helmer Lluis Galter's "Caracremada."

Closeups play the key role in tyro helmer Lluis Galter’s “Caracremada,” conveying a sense of the circumscribed world of an anti-Franco partisan going it alone in the Catalan hinterland. However, a beautiful use of light and painterly colors are no substitute for narrative thrust, and the obsessive reliance on tight focus just calls attention to itself instead of communicating atmosphere. Galter has talent, but he’s no Carl Theodor Dreyer, and this tribute to a solitary saboteur is too airless for all but the most art-friendly Hispanophile fests.

In 1951, the antifascist National Confederation of Spanish Labor in Exile rejected violent resistance to the regime. Most members complied, but Ramon Vila Capdevila, called Caracremada (Lluis Soler), refused to desist from his primary occupation since 1946, which was sabotaging the Catalan power grid with a hacksaw. As a child, Danaide (Clara Haro) was impressed by Caracremada’s tenacity; as an adult (Aina Calpe), she follows in his footsteps just when the anarchists reconsider their tactics. Galter’s episodic, circumscribed storytelling, with minimal dialogue, hinders emotional investment, and while lensing clarity is often stunning, the hi-def turns some of the darkest colors into blurred polarizations.

Caracremada

Spain

Production

A Mallerich Films Paco Poch, Cromosoma, Associacio Cultural "Passos Llargs" production, with the participation of Televisio de Catalunya, in collaboration with Institut Catala de les Industries Culturals. (International sales: Peninsula Group, Barcelona.) Produced by Paco Poch. Executive producers, Sergi Moreno, Oriol Ivern, Tono Folguera, Toni Marin. Directed, written by Lluis Galter.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Jordi Figueras; editors, Juliana Montanes, Carlos Marques; production, costume designers, Laila Rosato, Miriam Sanchez. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Horizons), Sept. 5, 2010. (Also in San Sebastian Film Festival -- Made in Spain.) Running time: 99 MIN.

With

Lluis Soler, Domenec Bautista, Aina Calpe, Clara Haro, Sebastian Cabello, Andreu Carandell, Carles Garcia, Jose Miguel Sanchez, Joan Muntal, Mariona Perrier, Jesus Aymerich. (Catalan, Spanish, French dialogue)

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