You will be redirected back to your article in seconds


Thoughtful but severely overstretched.

With: Magaly Solier, Celso Bugallo, Pietro Sibille, Sonia Almarcha, Fanny de Castro.

Having investigated unemployment (“Mondays in the Sun”) and prostitution (“Princesas”) in his past two films, Fernando Leon de Aranoa tackles immigration in the thoughtful but severely overstretched “Amador.” Blending black comedy, lyricism and social critique into a well-intentioned if diffuse slice of urban poetry that can’t decide whether it wants us to laugh, cry or just feel guilty, pic reps the first time the helmer has put style before substance. Aranoa’s reputation could bring restricted offshore arthouse play, but otherwise, prospects are limited for a project that’s not up to his best.

Bolivian Marcela (Peruvian thesp Solier) lives in the outskirts of Madrid with her b.f., Nelson (Pietro Sibille), who ekes out a precarious living stealing and selling flowers. Unbeknownst to Nelson, Marcela is pregnant. When the refrigerator where they store the flowers breaks down, cash-strapped Marcela accepts a job from Yolanda (Sonia Almarcha) taking care of her bedridden father, Amador (Celso Bugallo), a good-hearted curmudgeon and jigsaw fan.

The relationship between this odd couple is at first awkward, but softens into a quiet complicity. Comedy is generated by Puri (Fanny de Castro), Amador’s chirpy, middle-aged Andalusian neighbor, who visits him on Thursdays to provide manual relief.

Marcela’s private hell grows even darker when, after coming across Nelson with another woman, she returns home to find that Amador has died, holding the last piece of his jigsaw in his hand. Frightened of losing her income, Marcela decides to make it look as if he’s still alive.

Successfully balancing tragedy and farce, the script is well crafted at the level of its ideas, working through multiple criticisms of society while raising questions about the deep impact of politics on individuals at the bottom of the social pile.

However, atypically for Aranoa, too much is implausible here. A dead body in sweltering summertime Madrid would hardly remain in the perfect state the script would have us believe (magical explanations for Amador’s miraculous preservation are distantly hinted at, but not worked through). Meanwhile, Marcela’s almost total isolation from others, which allows the deception to be maintained, is never explained. Elsewhere, the pic’s use of puzzle and flower symbolism mostly feels stagy.

The film’s longueurs leave one nostalgic for the well-captured dialogue that distinguishes the helmer’s earlier work. Long stretches are spent registering the perpetually fearful, withdrawn Marcela’s understated reaction to the latest piece of bad news, though without opening her up to us. Although thesp Solier proved in “The Milk of Sorrow” that she can turn a character’s passivity into something interesting, here the camera lingers a bit too long. The reliable Bugallo succeeds in casting Amador’s long shadow over pic’s second half, when he’s just a shape under a sheet.

Apart from the occasional foray out into the bright Madrid sunshine, the action basically shuttles between Amador’s home and Marcela’s, and even skilled lenser Ramiro Civita is unable to keep up the visual interest over almost two hours. Music is used sparingly and to good effect.



Production: An Alta Classics release of a Reposado, Mediapro production with the participation of TVE. (International sales: Imagina, Madrid.) Produced by Fernando Leon de Aranoa, Jaume Roures. Executive producers, Patricia De Muns, Javier Mendez. Directed, written by Fernando Leon de Aranoa.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Ramiro Civita; editor, Nacho Ruiz Capillas; music, Lucio Godoy; art director, Llorenc Miquel; sound (Dolby Digital), Ivan Marin, Daniel Pena, Alfonso Raposo. Reviewed at Alta Films screening room, Madrid, Sept. 14, 2010. Running time: 112 MIN.

With: With: Magaly Solier, Celso Bugallo, Pietro Sibille, Sonia Almarcha, Fanny de Castro.

More Film

  • SpiderMan Far From Home

    Hollywood Takes on Italy's Vacation-Heavy Summer Season With Blockbusters

    With upcoming movies such as “Toy Story 4,” “Men in Black: International” and “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” Hollywood studios are finally taking the plunge this year and slotting their blockbusters in Italian cinemas during the summer, a time when residents traditionally hit the beach en masse. For decades, the studios withheld their [...]

  • Easy Money

    Netflix Orders 'Snabba Cash' Series Based on Hit Movie Franchise from SF Studios

    Netflix has ordered a six-part original series based on the hit Swedish crime franchise “Snabba Cash” from SF Studios. Based on Jens Lapidus’s bestselling novels, the series is set in Stockholm’s gritty criminal underground ten years after the events depicted in the “Snabba Cash” (“Easy Money,” pictured) movie trilogy. The society has become even more [...]

  • The Kings Man

    Film News Roundup: Disney Sets 'The King's Man' Spy Comedy for February

    In today’s film news roundup, “The King’s Man” and “A Kid From Coney Island” get release dates, and “Barry” star Anthony Carrigan joins “Bill & Ted Face the Music.” RELEASE DATE Disney has set its Fox spy comedy prequel “The King’s Man” for release on Feb. 14, 2020. Disney made the announcement Wednesday at its [...]

  • Shyrakshy: Guardian of the Light

    Shanghai Film Review: 'Shyrakshy: Guardian of the Light'

    The bombastic English title might sound like it describes some comic book sci-fi epic, but in “Shyrakshy: Guardian of the Light” our hero does not wear a cape but a weathered cap, and the light he guards is not an interstellar death ray but the flickering beam of a battered old movie projector. Prominent Kazakh [...]

  • Wanda Film's Zeng Maojun

    Shanghai: China's Once-Mighty Wanda Casts Itself in Role of Survivor

    The soundtrack for the introductory showreel at Wednesday evening’s Shanghai press event announcing Wanda Pictures’ annual line-up was aspirational and strangely defiant.  It began with Nina Simone crooning, “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me, and I’m feeling good,” and then continued with “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. “You [...]

  • 'The Souvenir' Costume Designer Fashioned 1980s'

    'The Souvenir' Costume Designer Put a Decadent Twist on Opulent ’80s Style

    Set against the backdrop of London’s early-1980s cultural renaissance, British auteur Joanna Hogg’s exquisitely sculpted and critically acclaimed “The Souvenir,” which A24 has been widening in platform release for the past month, follows film student Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) and her gradually destructive romance with the magnetic Anthony (Tom Burke). “We didn’t want a film [...]

  • Anne Hathaway

    Crew Member Stabbed on Set of Anne Hathaway's 'The Witches' in England

    A crew member has been stabbed in the neck on the set of Anne Hathaway’s “The Witches” remake, which is being shot at the Warner Bros. Studios stages in Leavesden, Hertfordshire. The Hertfordshire Constabulary said in a statement that the victim was hospitalized and his alleged attacker was arrested. The two men are believed to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content