Co-produced by Carlos Reygadas (and boy does the influence show), this highly disciplined and intense debut feature from Aguilera is a cautionary tale of motherhood and money set in a bland Madrid suburb. The title, translated as ‘The Influence’, alludes to the insidious transference of chronic depression from the mind of a deluded, unnamed single mother to her two, innocent young children. Captured with a staid, dispassionate camera and employing only fragments of linking dialogue, there are minimalist echoes of Bresson's ‘L’Argent’ and Akerman's ‘Jeanne Dielman…’ as the film calls into question both the gender roles of the modern housewife, and the emotional free-fall that sometimes comes from totally nondescript situations. By no means a cheerful ride, but unquestionably a brilliant one, and rounded off with a lacerating final shot which will stick fast in the memory.
Cast and crew