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El pisito (1958)
against Franco we used to live better
Obviously, the sarcastic statement made by Vazquez Montalban twenty years ago is by no means true, but when comparing recent Spanish film productions to some of the oppositional masterpieces shot during the 50's and 60's one feels tempted to believe it.
El Pisito is a caustic criticism on the hardness of lower classes everyday reality in the fifties francoist society. It rawly portrays the infrahuman conditions in which people were forced to live (whole families inhabiting a single room of a crowded apartment) and the perverse struggle getting by in such conditions was, but, instead of imitating the Italian neorealist melodramatic mood to search the compassion and solidarity of the spectator, the material is presented from satirical perspective based on the Spanish theatrical style of "esperpento" (plays that mocks national traditions through the employment of emphasized grotesque features). This way, the choral protagonist of the film (there's a predominance of long cuts framing groups of people, sometimes carrying out simultaneous actions)is shown closer to an animal than a human being in a chaotic urban jungle where everything is permitted, causing distancing in the audience.
For this task, all the actors are just great, creating great doses of black humour; but, avobe all, Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez proves to be one of the best actors in Spanish cinema, brilliantly performing that henpecked boyfriend always conducted by someone else's will like a poor puppet.
In sum, this movie is a must see for anyone interested in Spanish cinema and culture (mandatory for fans of Alex de la Iglesia's oubvre) and lovers of intelligent and bitting humour.