×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Incredibles

Built on the hackneyed premise that people in adversity are the true superheroes, "The Incredibles" is itself anything but hackneyed.

With:
With: Maria Moreno, Joana Martin, Juan Eulalio Lopez.

Built on the hackneyed premise that people in adversity are the true superheroes, “The Incredibles” is itself anything but hackneyed. Debuting helmer David Valero invites himself and his camera into the lives of three very different protags, and the result is a compellingly intimate, wonderfully human docu that swings smoothly from hopeless tragedy to utter hilarity by analyzing lives under stress. The docu’s combination of humor and heartbreak reps a good opportunity for daring fest programmers.

Recently, Spanish helmers have done good work with the fly-on-the-wall format, perhaps most notably Sandra Sanchez with “Behind the Lights.” Adan Aliaga’s multiple prize-winning 2006 docu “My Grandmother’s House” is clearly one of the inspirations here (Aliaga himself takes an associate producer credit).

The Incredibles” shuttles with agility between its stories. Its subjects are Maria Moreno, a spirited 94-year-old who supplies most of the laughs; Joana Martin, a thirtysomething mother of two who has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer; and Juan Eulalio Lopez, who lost his arm, and subsequently his marriage, in a traffic accident.

Moreno goes about her daily business, which involves polishing her extensive collection of religious statuettes, bickering with her daughter and delivering some wonderfully surreal dialogue. Lopez records himself on video, as suggested by his psychotherapist, reflecting on how the women he meets tend to reject him because of his missing arm. His story reps a midpoint between the comic/tragic extremes of the others. (Among lots of little human details, the pic unveils the mystery of how a one-armed man cuts his fingernails.)

Martin is seen having fun with her family, including her long-suffering husband. But the docu spills over into morally awkward voyeurism when she tells her hairstylist that she’d prefer not to watch her hair being shaved off, a process the aud can see. But several later scenes are almost unbearably moving, mostly because Valero respects Martin too much to be sentimental about her.

The film’s direction developed as shooting progressed, and inevitably, many scenes have the immediacy of homevideo. The pic’s winningly direct air is the result of crafty work by Valero, who has chosen his subjects well and is happy just to let them be themselves, and editor Aurora Sulli, while ensuring that not a single scene overstays its welcome, neatly teases out the counterpoints and echoes among the three stories. When Martin’s doctor tells her it’s important to stay optimistic, Moreno’s irrepressible optimism immediately springs to mind.

On the downside, the project’s rebranding of its protags as “The Iron Lady,” “Broken Wing,” and “Radioactive Woman,” respectively, feels like a contrived and unnecessary attempt to yoke the stories together after the fact.

The Incredibles

Documentary - Spain

Production: A Frida Films, Salto de Eje production. (International sales: Tree Line Distribution, Santiago de Compostela.) Produced by Luisa Romero, Juanjo Gimenez. Directed, written by David Valero.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Valero; editor, Aurora Sulli; music, Vincent Barriere; art director, Kamestudio; costume designer, Marisa Urruti; sound (Dolby Digital), Cinemar Films. Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (New Directors), Sept. 24, 2012. Running time: 86 MIN.

With: With: Maria Moreno, Joana Martin, Juan Eulalio Lopez.

More Film

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content