Jota is about to commit suicide. As he fighting against himself, trying to jump off a bridge, a girl riding a motorcycle falls off the bridge. He runs to help her, and goes with her to the ...
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In Lapland Finland, under the eternal midnight sun, two ardent lovers will reunite once again after a long period apart, governed by a powerful and eloquent circular motif that is woven by destiny, faith and love.
Nina is a 20 years old girl from Valladolid who lives with her divorced father, an autoritarian and conservative man. Trini is of the same age and has lost her mother. For both Valladolid ... See full summary »
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Jota is about to commit suicide. As he fighting against himself, trying to jump off a bridge, a girl riding a motorcycle falls off the bridge. He runs to help her, and goes with her to the hospital. She has forgotten even what her name is, and he invents her life. He makes up a name for her and tells her and the doctors that they live together as a couple for four years. The lie goes on for a while... Written by
I love her from my very entrails. I need her same as I need my liver, my brain, my eyes. Without her, my bones break, my lungs melt and I cannot breathe. I need Sofia so that I can live.
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A mesmerising thriller with hints of magical realism
Julio Medem is something of an underrated figure within the spectrum of world cinema. He regularly produces bold, imaginative and exciting films that shatter the usual preconceptions we might have of the limitations of cinematic language and storytelling in the visual sense, as well as presenting an incredibly intelligent and original approach to the ideas of production design, editing and cinematography. Despite this, however, he has yet to be fully acclaimed universally as a great filmmaker in the tradition of Tarkovsky, Bergman, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Godard, Welles etc - or even ranked alongside contemporary cinematic figures such as Pedro Almodóvar, Lars von Trier, Aki Kaurismäki, Michael Haneke and Guillermo Del Toro. The Red Squirrel (1993) was only Medem's second feature following the elliptical historical satire Vacas (1991) and yet, even now we can already see the themes from that particular film being further developed in preparation for the later, perhaps even great films, such as Tierra (1996), The Lovers of the Arctic Circle (1998) and Sex and Lucia (2001).
Like those films, The Red Squirrel is a multi-layered work rife with possible interpretations and elements of broad, Buñuelian surrealism that are at odds with the more recognisable presentation of reality established in the film's intriguing first half. On our initial viewing the plot can seem incredibly straightforward, revolving around the strange relationship between a suicidal former pop star and the mysterious, amnesiac woman who literally falls into his life. With this section of the film, Medem creates a truly unique modern-day thriller, building on elements of Hitchcock - most noticeably Vertigo (1957), with its iconographical depictions of mysterious blondes, shadowy villains, damaged heroes and seething paranoia - but intelligently subverting them by way of elements as diverse as Salvador Dali, the aforementioned Buñuel, low-budget B-movies, The Road Warrior (1980), elements of magical realism and ideas central to the Basque regional identity; again, drawing parallels with the hypnotic and self-reflexive world of Vacas. These subtle editions compliment the more recognisable characteristics of the romantic-thriller mystery story at the heart of the film to create something that is much more engrossing, enticing, and unique.
As the story progresses and we are drawn ever deeper into the film's central mystery, we begin to note the emergence of further plot influences, such as psychological horror, melodramatic eroticism, heart-stopping suspense, black comedy and eventually full-blown surrealism. As it does, the film then becomes much more complex, taking on issues of love, sexuality, mental and physical manipulation, mind-games and cinematic role-playing. Medem ties the whole thing together with some wonderful set pieces and a staggering use of cinematic style put together on an obviously limited budget. It isn't purely the imagination and intelligence of Medem that impresses us though; with every wild narrative U-Turn or directorial flourish - incorporating everything from Kiss Me Deadly (1955) to Raising Arizona (1987) - being backed up by the fine performances from lead actors Nancho Novo and Emma Suárez, both of whom manage to makes us care an enormous amount about these two protagonists and the relationship that forms between them.
Although it's always tempting to say that both Medem and his work is unlike anything else you will ever see; I think there are some obvious reference points here, many of which have been mentioned above, as well as a certain similar approach to filmmakers such Krzysztof Kieslowski - with the deep, meditative and vaguely hypnotic use of camera combined with the intricate presentation of a narrative driven by the purely psychological; most apparent for example in his epic TV series Dekalog (1989) and one of his greatest films, The Double Life of Veronique (1991) - and especially a filmmaker like Wong Kar-Wai, with the idea of the lead character's enigmatic pop song describing the narrative and the central location manipulating the story so as to take on more self-reflexive, metaphorical notions being very much in keeping with films such as like Happy Together (1997), In the Mood for Love (1999) and 2046 (2004).
As with much of Medem's work, including the 2001 erotic mystery thriller Sex and Lucia, the film uses much in the way of cinematic coincidences, with the various coincidences that form the basis of the plot acting as clues to the narrative. This turns the film into a wonderful example of cinematic storytelling, creating a real mystery for the audience in which all the pieces fall perfectly into place during the film's final act, but still leave us room for interpretation. Without question, this is a delightful cinematic experience that goes way beyond the limitations of film; elaborating on some of the complex ideas regarding narrative, time, character and spirit presented in Vacas, whilst simultaneously foreshadowing the ideas of escape, transcendence, imagination, eroticism and the notion of a story being written as it goes, which will all be further developed in Sex and Lucia. With this in mind, The Red Squirrel is an absolute marvel; an epic, ornate jigsaw-puzzle for the audience, and - without question - one of the greatest films of the 1990's.
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