El Mar

Movies
Of the Spanish films dealing with the traumas caused by the Civil War, many have followed what perhaps remains the finest of its kind - Erice's The Spirit of the Beehive - in filtering events through the sensibility of a child. This fifth feature by Villaronga initially looks like it belongs to the same line. In 1936, three kids see a pal kill a Francoist executioner's son and then himself. But the director evidently has something more unusual in mind, and soon leaps a decade to a sanatorium where Francisca (Torrens), now a nun, tends the all-male tubercular patients, including the almost fanatically religious Manuel (Bergonzini) and new arrival Andreu (Casamajor), whose boastful tales of sexual conquest and petty crime stir mixed emotions in his old friends. With its eye-catching bravura camerawork and editing, a prominent score and use of religious and sexual symbolism/metaphor, this takes a very different route from Erice's classic. Villaronga drums up neat pietàs and Crucifixion imagery, and there's even good dialogue on death and its approach. But it's too portentous, overheated, flashy, derivative and implausible for its own good.

By: GA

Release details

Cast and crew

Director: Augustí Villaronga
Screenwriter: Antonio Aloy, Biel Mesquida, Augustí Villaronga
Cast: Bruno Bergonzini
Roger Casamajor
Antonía Torrens
Angela Molina
Simón Andreu
Juli Mira
Hernán González