Wednesday, 15 August 2007

EIFF: La Soledad (Solitary Fragments) - Review by Robert Duffin

Director: Jaime Rosales
Screenwriters: Jaime Rosales & Enric Rufas
Running Time : 130 mins
EIFF Screenings:
Thu 16 Aug 19:15 Cineworld
Sat 18 Aug 20:00 Cineworld

Director Jaime Rosales’ second feature film, La Soledad, is a leisurely tale of women as wives, daughters, sisters, friends and mothers. The film follows two interweaving strands: one follows Antonia (Petra Martínez), the mother of three grown daughters and the other Adela (Paloma Mozo), mother of a small boy who just celebrated his first birthday. The stories only overlap in that Adela moves into the same apartment as Inès (Miriam Correa), who is one of Adela’s daughters.

La Soledad is almost a verite soap opera, concerning itself with the day-to-day travails of life: finding somewhere to love, money troubles, sibling rivalry, disease, relationships and bringing up children. Yet, Rosales eschews the trappings of melodrama with his unique style. Nearly all scenes are shot with a static camera, positioned in a room as characters wander on and off screen, which, coupled with the exploration of the family dynamic, echoes Ozu’s Tokyo Story.

Rosales also uses split screen, an almost ostracized cinematic technique, to further delve into the psyche of his characters. In one memorable scene Adela and her estranged partner have a painful conversation regarding their choices in life and Adela is framed speaking directly to camera baring her truths, while Pedro (Jose Luis Torrijo) is glimpsed from behind through a door frame hunched and distant.

However the film is overlong, and it’s stationary camera structure betrays narrative twists by drawing your attention to them too early. Yet despite its shortcomings it's worth persevering with, as Rosales’ poetic ode to societal disconnect will linger in the mind long after his camera rests on the sunburnt rooftops of Madrid.

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