'Two Brothers'

"What happens to our eyes, happens to our souls," says one of the characters in "Two Brothers," and rookie scribe-helmer Imanol Rayo seems to have taken this to heart for his adaptation of Basque novelist Bernardo Atxaga's dark novella.

“What happens to our eyes, happens to our souls,” says one of the characters in “Two Brothers,” and rookie scribe-helmer Imanol Rayo seems to have taken this to heart for his adaptation of Basque novelist Bernardo Atxaga’s dark novella. There’s not a plain frame to be found in this impeccably designed tale of two siblings in the 1950s Basque Country, with the exquisite lensing and sound design — all ticking clocks, creaking floorboards, dogs barking in the distance — doing more to fully immerse auds than the meager scraps of narrative. Fests not afraid of heavily atmospheric fare will fraternize.

First word uttered, some six minutes in, is “Silence,” and doubles as a statement of intent. After the death of their father, young Paulo (Bingen Elortza, photogenic and pensive) needs to look after his slightly older, disabled brother, Daniel (Aitor Coteron, impressively mercurial), especially after Daniel’s interest in a pretty girl (Loreto Mauleon) causes trouble. Like the recent Basque feature “The Stone,” “Two Brothers” excels in creating a sense of place. Heavily symbolic imagery, such as apples and snakes, is often more telling than any direct story details.

Two Brothers

Spain

Production

An Orio Produkzioak presentation and production, in association with ETB. Produced by Benat Ibarbia. Executive producers, Benat Ibarbia, Unai Ibarbia. Directed, written by Imanol Rayo, based on the novella by Bernardo Atxaga.

Crew

Camera (color), Javier Agirre Erauso; editor, Guille Sanchez Mahave; art director, Peio Villalba; costume designer, Josune Lasa. Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (Zinemira Premieres), Sept. 20, 2011. Running time: 104 MIN.

With

Bingen Elortza, Aitor Coteron, Kandido Uranga, Loreto Mauleon, Oihan Lopetegi, Mariasun Pagoaga, Klara Badiola, Patxi Santamaria, Inigo Lizarralde, Amaia Lizarralde, Patxo Telleria. (Basque dialogue)
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