Xavier Bermúdez's refreshing and intense 'León y Olvido' goes against the stereotype that one may have of people suffering from Down's syndrome. At the heart of 'León y Olvido' is the story of two siblings. Olvido is a hard-working young lady who works as a seamstress to make ends meet. Upon the arrival of her younger brother, who has been repeatedly expelled from institutions her problems only increase. She sees her brother as a burden and neglects him while at the same time projected her frustration and anger with life towards him. The difficult situation only exacerbates when she loses her job. León, on the other hand, is an active, curious and bright young man who is like an adolescent interested in girls, school and learning new things while craving for his sister's affection. He loves her no matter what.
The theme of incest is gently touched but, in my opinion, some of the interpretations are quite extreme. I do not believe that neither León nor Olvido had sexual feelings for one another. Sexual feelings were something new for León and he has yet to learn how to interpret them. He would tease his sister with sexual jokes but that does not necessarily mean he wanted her. It was more a playful interaction between them. Olvido knows that her brother sees her as a sexual being and the bathtub scene suggests her finding comfort in that thought. I'm not suggesting that it is normal for two adult siblings to take a bath together and clearly Olvido is not mentally stable but suggesting that she had sexual feelings for León is a stretch too far.
The Andalusian oceanside location is captured brilliantly. Bermúdez does not go over the top with his technical equipments. Marta Larralde and Guillem Jiménez deliver spot on performances. Olvido could have ended up being a caricature demon sister but Larralde manages to exude her nuances making her a sympathetic soul while Jimenénez is a delight to watch on screen. He plays the part so naturally that it surprises me that this is his first movie.
'León y Olvido' is a sincere film that tells an important story, one that breaks stereotypical barriers. Moreover, there is a clever irony at the end of the film that reminds one of how life is full of surprises and how situations can cause our roles to reverse. A great debut by Bermúdez.
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