Saturday, May 19, 2012

Euro 2012: Spanish Films

Entry #4 of the Euro 2012 Book & Film Spotlight looks at the two Spanish films.

The Last Circus (2010, Álex de la Iglesia)

The Last Circus

An alternate film title for The Last Circus could easily be “The Beauty & The Two Beasts” as Natalia (Carolina Bang) finds herself in a tug of war between Javier (Carlos Areces) and Sergio (Antonio de la Torre), two men who transform into monsters as the film progresses. Javier, the ‘sad clown’, and Sergio exhibit shades of jealousy and violence to begin with but those emotions are partially masked. However, their facial disfiguration allows them to unleash their inner demons thereby liberating them from shackles of shame and humanity. As a result, Natalia finds herself having to choose between the lesser of two evil monsters. The love triangle story is an allegory for the Spanish political state and how love for one’s nation causes a person to resort to extreme measures. In that regard, Natalia represents a beautiful Spain forced to choose between different political ideologies, with each ideal being equally oppressive and evil.

Manuel Yáñez-Murillo’s Film Comment review excellently sums the film up.

Map of the Sounds of Tokyo (2009, Isabel Coixet)

Map of the Sounds of Tokyo

The story of a female Japanese assassin falling for the Spanish man she is hired to kill sounds promising but unfortunately Isabel Coixet’s film fails to deliver beyond a few tantalizing moments. The chemistry between Ryu (Rinko Kikuchi) and David (Sergi López) lights up the screen but unfortunately those seductive pleasures are limited. The real star of the film has to be Tokyo, a city that almost steals every moment when the camera is not focused on the actors.


Sam Juliano said...

THE LAST CIRCUS reminds me of Jodorowsky, Sachin, what with the allegorical underpinnings, and the bizarre narrative. But I suppose that Del Toro's PAN'S LABYRINTH can be envisioned here too. I can't wait to see it.

As far as Isabel Coixet's film, this is another I haven't seen yet, but I am intrigued, as the director did do ELEGY with Ben Kingsley a few years back, which while not a great film, did display some directorial skill.

Excellent capsule reviews here my friend!

Sachin said...

Yes Sam I thought quite a bit about Pan's Labyrinth & also a bit about Erice's The Spirit of the Beehive. However, The Last Circus goes for a darker look packed with plenty to violence in the 2nd half thereby differentiating itself.

Thanks for your wonderful comment.