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In the harsh post-war years' Catalan countryside, Andreu, a child that belongs to the losing side, finds the corpses of a man and his son in the forest. The authorities want his father to be made responsible of the deaths, but Andreu tries to help his father by finding out who truly killed them. In this search, Andreu develops a moral consciousness against a world of adults fed by lies. In order to survive, he betrays his own roots and ends up finding out the monster that lives within him. Written by
This film swept the board at this year's Goyas (Spanish cinema awards), but after last years Cell 211 ( an enjoyable but unremarkable prison drama) did the same, I wasn't expecting too much.
I'd enjoyed Villaronga's disturbing Aro Tolbukhin, but I wasn't expecting this. One of the best opening sequences you'll see all year leads to a mystery, experienced through the eyes of one boy, that reveals lies, conspiracy and the dark secrets in the heart of a rural Catalan village a few years after the end of the Civil War.
It's magnificently done, and the performances of the children match those of actors such as Sergi Lopez (whose role echoes that in Pan's Labyrinth),Eduard Fernández and Marina Comas.
Scenes such as the boy's father instructing him to uphold his ideals and walk tall, or a powerless mother pleading her husband's innocence, are familiar from more commercial films. Here they are brutally undermined until nothing is left but pitiless self interest.
A chilling study of how war and poverty create monsters.
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