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"Sobre el arco iris" is an interesting film. This is hardly a compliment, as it is clear that the director looked for an extreme, "love-it-or-hate-it" kind of reaction. As it stands, "Sobre el arco iris" is just ok.
A Spanish young man buys a video camera and travels to Berlin. All that we see are his recordings. As he sinks deeper into a mental breakdown (whose motives remain unexplained), he begins to consider the camera as a mirror that excludes everything else, that is to say, he only exists and acts for its camera. When he decides to abandon reality and to turn his life into fiction, to transform his video diary into a thriller, we enter the dangerous territory of Powell's "Peeping Tom" and Haneke's "Benny's video".
"Sobre el arco iris" is hugely ambitious. It deals with our erotic/schizophrenic rapports with images, the blurring lines between reality and fiction and the ultimately vampire nature of cinema, both for the film-makers and the audience. It borrows from the masterpieces cited above, as well as from Dogma movement and even "The Blair Witch Project" (in the sense of trying to scare us by making us think: "what if this was real?"). However, the real source of inspiration is 80's Spanish underground cinema masterpiece, "Arrebato", with its idea of a vampire camera that steals the souls of film-makers and actors alike. These ideas have clearly inspired the scene where the main character fakes his suicide and then begins to film as if he wasn't there and the camera had taken a life of its own.
Alas, the film never quite reaches the heights it clearly aims for. As usual with Spanish films, it is basically a screenplay problem. Lopez-Gallego wants to capture visually a scary process of self-disappearance, but the changes that the main character undergoes in the last reel are dramatically unbelievable, and his actions seem too forced. One thing is trying to preserve the enigma (Why is the main character calling himself Ludwig?, Why is he so traumatized?, Has he planned the whole thing from the beginning?) and another is to ask the audience for a tremendous suspension of disbelief, that no director has any right to ask both in moral and aesthetic grounds.
All in all, a failed but interesting experiment by one of the few adventurous Spanish directors (try checking out López-Gallego first film, the excellent "Nómadas"). It is stuff like this we need right now, if only to make up for senseless, obsolete crap such as Almodovar's "La mala educación".
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