Sombras en una Batalla is not the kind of movie where everything falls neatly into place at the end. Ana (Carmen Maura) is a veterinarian who who lives in relative seclusion with her daughter Blanca (Sonia Martin) in an out-of-the-way small town near Zamora. As the movie proceeds we learn that she was a member of an underground organization. José (Joaquim de Almeida), the Portuguese man he meets in a bus confesses to having been a member of a police or paramilitary group in charge of kidnapping and killing members of Ana's organization living in exile in France.
Is Ana's encounter with José really random or a ploy to flush her out? (she seems to have information inconvenient to higher ups in the government and to former members of her organization). After meeting José, Ana is clearly under surveillance, apparently by the police and/or by people associated with her former organization or Jose's group. At the end she confronts some of her pursuers (with results that are left open). Even the time of the action is unclear; Ana drives a car built in the sixties but other vehicles seem more contemporary. This is a movie where the viewer is frequently assigned the task of scriptwriting from sparse and elusive hints; in particular, the ending probably will be differently construed by different viewers.
This said, Sombras en una Batalla is an excellent movie. Maura's acting is outstanding. The other actors (de Almeida, Martin, Fernando Valverde as Darío, Ana's faithful friend and would be lover) are equally excellent. The main characters are intensely fleshed out and their interaction is subtle and deeply moving. The delayed effects of having participated in violent acts (and of dealing with the consequences that follow) are depicted very convincingly. The cinematography is moody and atmospheric. The direction by Mario Camus is at times slow and deliberate but always gripping.
At the end of the movie this sentence is quoted: "I don't speak of vengeance or pardon; oblivion is the only vengeance and the only pardon". It belongs to the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges; it's verse 27 in his poem (or collection of aphorisms) "Fragments of an Apocryphal Gospel" in his 1969 collection Elogio de la Sombra (In Praise of Shadow). This throws some light (or doesn't) on the ending of the movie.
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