In the Summer of 1993, Frida, a six-year-old little girl, leaves Barcelona and her grandparents for the countryside. After her father, her mother has just died of a mysterious illness. Taken in by her uncle Esteve and aunt Marga, Frida discovers her new environment, an old stone farmhouse in a mountainous area close to a dense forest. Her new "parents" prove friendly. Another good point is that they have a three-year old daughter named Anna who can become a playmate. For another child less disturbed than miserable uprooted Frida, this would be the most idyllic of stays, in other words a permanent vacation. But Frida IS disturbed and if there are undeniably good times at her new "home", there is also the unexpressed pain which makes her both feel sad and behave badly. Will Frida overcome her troubles ? Only the end of Summer will tell.Written by
I give this movie a ten star rating. I suspect it will be remembered as a classic. The general feeling of the film and six year old Freda (Laia Artigas) remind me of The Spirit of the Beehive and Anna Torrent. Apparently other reviewers have felt the same. The film is perfectly and beautifully directed and filmed.
The film is intimate, as if I am one of the characters in a family trying to raise a niece whose mother has just died of what in the early 90's was a mysterious disease. I could feel Freda's loneliness, pain, confusion and fear as well as her kind aunt and uncle's failure to breakthrough the child's depression.
There is an undercurrent of fear that three year old Anna (Paula Robles) will fall victim to one of Freda's sometimes strange behaviors. The disease isn't specifically named but it is thought to be spread by touching the blood of someone who has it, that Freda might have it and accidentally spread it around the playground or to her new little sister. Freda is mystified by this, as well as a strange statue of the Virgin Mary in a nook of the forest. These sorts of scenes are to me much more spine-chilling than a bunch of boring, idiotic weirdly dressed super-heroes/action celebrities killing each other.
There are plenty of the joys of childhood that are shared and balance the film.: Eating ice pops, learning to swim, taking the training wheels off of her bicycle, or the two little girls playing together around the farm, woods and farmhouse.
In sum: A lovely film destined to become a classic intimate portrait of childhood.
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