1936. The Spanish Civil War broke out and the Anarchist militia occupy the Lower Aragon. A Matarranya, Ramon and his wife Dora hide a secret ancestral to all other villagers. Near the ... See full summary »
Set in Catalonia, Painless weaves two stories: in one, starting during the Spanish Civil War and running through to the '60s, an asylum attempts to rehabilitate children who feel no pain, ... See full summary »
Juan Carlos Medina
The device of intersecting threads is used here en passant. Three individuals -- a man, a young woman, a mid-aged woman -- wait for an evening city bus. They are strangers and not speaking to each other. Across the street, a fancy car pulls over. A man comes out, opens the back door and walks a small dog to the curb. He ties the dog to a hydrant (or something fixed, I can't remember). He drives off leaving the puzzled dog alone. The three individuals watch this. When the car is gone, they realize the driver has abandoned the dog. They are outraged and decide to rescue the dog. That's how the film opens.
The three characters will not cross paths again except through a very unimportant indirect connection. Each person is dealt with within its own thread. We alternate between the three.
We don't get to follow what happens every day of the 53 day period. We sample. Each day is introduced on the screen: lunes, martes, viernes, lunes, martes, miercoles, jueves, viernes. We jump to febrero and resume the sampling of the days of the week: miercoles, domingo, lunes.
The man is married, has a son, and a job that does not pay particularly well. The pregnant wife if expecting twins. A family of five is going to be a financial stress. Things begin to fall apart.
The young woman is a string instrument musician. She is trying to get accepted into a quartet run by her male teacher. What price is she willing to pay to be accepted? Hope and disappointment.
The middle-aged single woman is a teacher who has been attacked by one of her student. Her confidence has been shattered. After a rest period she restarts teaching with some apprehension. She is also trying to spruce her life with a male presence despite her tendency to be a loner. Will she succeed?
On the side, there is Felix the dog. A minor role but a reminder that animals also have bad days.
At the core of these stories are the vicissitudes of life and how persons face up to them. It's the oscillation between the short moments of happiness and the lengthier moments of sadness. It's heartbreak. It's money problems. It's treachery. It's life.
There are no wasted scenes. The style is crisp. The end is hopeful but the last scene is a perfect distillation of the thematic core of the three narratives.
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