This Spanish short seems to prefigure a traumatic strain in mainstream culture - youth and the gun - and a series of films (the best of which is MADE IN HONG KONG) about teenage disenchantment finding an outlet in random violence. Lola, Kike and Santi are three bored friends stuck in some archetypal Spanish backwater with nothing to do but form dodgy rock bands, play in fairgrounds, or hang around deserted railway depots. In the latter they find a gun (who left it there?), which Lola takes care of, not trusting the macho posturing of her friends. Both are in love with her, and she seems to respond warmly to each. In a cafe, as they await her decision, she responds angrily to a drunk.
The film's title translates as 'between tracks', and suggests a number of meanings. Most literally there is the railway depot where they loiter, with some trains departing with their dreams of escape, but most, like them, stuck, ready to decay, going nowhere. This suspended, alienated state is visualised in the tracks being outside the town where they live, but inescapably a part of it. It also refers to the protagonists, stuck in that no man's land between childhood and adulthood, where they crave independence, but are still economically dependent on their families, which, unsurprisingly, seem dysfunctional.
After the rush of the post-Franco years (epitomised in Almodovar's 80's films, which seem to be parodically echoed here), Spain, if this film is anything to go by, is not the most happening place to be. But there is an element of teenage self-pity in all this - everyone thinks their own home is a bore and dreams of escape: like most young people, these characters haven't really the guts to do it. Unlike the lovely SHOW ME LOVE, though, the characters (naturally enough, it's a short) aren't fleshed out enough to avoid a feeling of deja vu. Besides an expertly caught feeling of rusty abandonment, the film doesn't capture the sense of social trap that imprisons these characters, a grasp of their supposedly intolerable home lives.
The actors do their best, and inject some real energy into this hackneyed scenario. What does convince is how these lives without direction are suddenly brought into focus by the gun, which brings aimlessness to a head, brings characters, if you like, from margins, from plotlessness, from life, into narrative. It is a frightening moment, significantly gendered (even if you wonder whether Cordoba is having fun with 'who'll do the shooting?' games), although there is a sour anti-American flavour to the critique.
Like many recent European shorts (e.g. THE NORTH STAND), the film is framed by a disc jockey, a voice in the dark talking to everyone, paternalistic, part of 'official' society, but completely detached from the reality of people's lives. Stylistically, the film avoids pointless trickery, and catches a sense of sunny decay in the rusty colour schemes.
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