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José Luis García Sánchez
Fernando Fernán Gómez,
In the post Spanish civil war years, Catalan kids would sit in circles among the ruins and tell stories, known as "aventis" (the film's original title in Catalan, its original language). These tales mix war stories, local gossip, comic book characters, fantasy and real events. The "aventis" told in this film are told in flashback. In the mid 80s, 45 or so years after the age of the "aventis," a doctor and a nurse-nun (who grew up together, and now are co-workers in a hospital) identify the corpse of one of the main characters of the "aventis" of their childhood and adolescence. Besides the interesting flashbacks - a chronical of the Civil War in a "typical" Barcelona microcosm itself, the discovery of this body (belonging to someone long presumed dead) leads to other surprises and unresolved doubts, several decades later. Written by
A Confusing Period of History Made Even More Confusing!
'Si te dicen que caí' ('If they tell you I fell') aka AVENTIS is a very long film made in 1989 by Vicente Aranda based on the novel by Juan Marsé AVENTIS. Apparently 'aventis' are stories created by bored youths in post civil war Barcelona who try to explain historical events mixed liberally with fiction, fantasy, superhero characters, and smoldering sex. In this case the aventis are re-workings of the Spanish Civil War history, a time span than runs from 1936 to 1940 to 1970 to the present. To understand the progress of events would take a straightforward documentary: toss in the concept of 'aventis' as made up by youngsters and the storyline is impossible to follow.
Perhaps in another director's hands, one less associated with his own political leanings, this film concept could have worked. It does, after all, have a cast of some of Spain's finest actors - Victoria Abril, Antonio Banderas, Juan Diego Botto, Jorge Sanz, Javier Gurruchaga, Lluís Homar and many others less well known now. There are so many crosscurrent stories lines that keeping the characters straight is a major problem. We see Jorge Sanz as a paid performer in a brothel: he performs bizarre sexual acts with the very pregnant Victoria Abril to satisfy a voyeur customer peeking through the curtains, yet we also see Sanz and Abril as lovers. The rise and fall of Franco, the conflicts of WW II fascism, communism, democratic republic, and all the machinations of politics and subterfuge and heroism and death make such an odd stew that finally filters down to the death and autopsy of a prostitute by a disturbed doctor....it just goes on and on.
The film is just being released on DVD and the color transfer and quality of film suffer. But those are technical items than can be easily forgiven if the movie itself were more worth watching. Doubtless those viewers who are well grounded in Spanish history from 1936 - 1989 will get much more out of what is probably a fine parody of a country at odds with itself. But for the casual viewer, looking at the film as a piece of Latin surrealism would be the only reason to view it. In Spanish or dubbed English (bah!) with no subtitles as option offered. Running time 120 minutes! Grady Harp
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