A dark, atmospheric take on the doomed love affair between a young Barcelona drug dealer and a middle-class junkie, “The Impossible Language” reps a striking if uneven first film for Rodrigo Rodero. Also serving as a portrait of barrio life in Barcelona in the early 1980s at a time of social change for Spain, pic shows its influences, principally Antonioni, too clearly, but its blend of grunge and lyricism is quietly seductive. “Language” marks a daring debut that merits further fest hearings.
Fernando (an edgy, gaunt Andres Gertrudix) meets heroin addict Elsa (Irene Escolar), who’s given to delivering self-absorbed monologues about life. Fascinated by her, but unwilling to support her habit, Fernando abandons Elsa, drifting into a relationship with artist Victoria (Helena Miquel). Pic is full of silences, some pregnant, some empty: One tour de force scene is a three-minute shot of a fluttering curtain at a life-changing moment for Fernando. Gertrudix is made for the role, while Escolar, though suitably delicate and ethereal, lacks the necessary heft. Music is key, mixing period songs with recent indie fare, and functions neatly as a commentary on the action.