This Spanish thriller manages to combine fast-paced action with heartwarming sentiment to produce an entertaining popcorn picture with just enough substance to satisfy art house audiences.
The tale of the growing emotional attachment between a young streetwise criminal and the little girl she's been saddled with even as she attempts to evade both the police and some revenge-minded hoods, "Fugitivas" manages to transcend its formulaic aspects, even though it's those very familiar plot devices that could well inspire a Hollywood remake. The film recently received its U.S. premiere at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival.
Newcomer Laia Marull
makes an impressive debut in the starring role of Tony, who along with her boyfriend Juanjo and two partners plan to hold up a Madrid bank. Complicating matters is Juanjo's need to pick up his young niece Laura from her prostitute mother and transport her to her flamenco singer farther in the south.
After persuading Tony To
rip off their partners and run off with the money, Juanjo winds up betraying her as well. So Tony finds herself fleeing, with Laura in tow, not only from the authorities but also from her former partners, who have trouble believing that she's not in possession of the loot.
The film alternates between violent encounters and lengthy chases, of both the foot and auto variety, and scenes in which Tony attempts to dump her young charge even as she finds herself increasingly devoted to her. She manages to find the aunt of the girl's father, an elderly woman who readily assumes the role of pseudo-grandmother. And when she does finally locate the father, he turns out to be unaware of his daughter's existence -- and completely uninterested.
Director Miguel Hermoso
stages the action sequences with visual flair and brisk pacing, and his excellent work is nicely complemented by the handsome widescreen cinematography. Indeed, the film well serves as a Spanish travelogue, with its extensive location shooting of locales ranging from Madrid to the Costa Del Sol
One wishes that the characterizations had been drawn with more depth -- the title heroines rarely rise above their most obvious characteristics, and the pursuing hoodlums are of the common junkie/near psychopathic hothead variety, but the performers, especially Marull and young Beatriz Coronel
, are highly engaging. Even better are veteran Spanish thespians Maria Galiana and Juan Diego, whose savvy performances are filled with the kind of complex grace notes that can only come from decades of experience.
Director: Miguel Hermoso
Screenplay: Miguel Hermoso
, Oscar Plasencia, Raul Brambilla
Producer: Antonio P. Perez
Cinematography: Tote Trenas
Editor: Blanca Guillem
Music: Antonio Meliveo
Tony: Laia Marull
Laura: Beatriz Coronel
Raimundo: Juan Diego
Ascension: Maria Galiana
Maxi: Miguel Hermoso
Moco: Roberto Cairo
Juanjo: Jesus Olmedo
Running time -- 98 minutes