Delicately-wrought, neatly structured and well-played, but ultimately lacking in substance and emotion, Vicente Perez Herrero’s third directorial outing, “Bestiary,” aims at making big statements about human relationships. Despite the odd felicitous moment, result disappoints: With more than 20 characters crammed into less than 90 minutes, only a great script could have brought them all alive. Home B.O. since opening late June has been discreet, with fests looking most suitable for such hardcore arthouse fare.
Lola (Carmen Elias) lives alone in a (beautifully lensed) coastal area. The visit of her daughter (Iciar Miranda) prompts Lola to reflect on different archetypes she’s known, with the idea of passing her knowledge on. These types, with names like Soledad Encontrada (literally, Solitude Discovered) and Andres Pocacosa (Andrew Not Much), are presented to us in B&W straight-to-camera interviews which then develop into 12 brief, numbered episodes showing romantic interludes from their lives. Stories are loosely connected, “Short Cuts”-style. Characters’ ability to analyze themselves generates an air of dramatic chilliness, engendering little audience sympathy. Badly needed humor is restricted to a couple of episodes, and the general over-earnestness regularly slips into pretentiousness. Transfer from DV is fine.