2006 - Spain - 105 minutes
Director and Writer - Daniel Sánchez Arévalo
My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars
Seven years ago, Jorge, a young man frustrated with the fact that his father wanted him to follow in his footsteps and become janitor of a large apartment building, sets fire to one of the trash bins. Jorge's father sees him and runs after him whereupon the father suffers a stroke.
In those seven years' time, Jorge has assumed care of his invalid father and become what he hates - the janitor for the building. However, Jorge has continued his dream and has recently earned a degree from business school. He interviews for one position after another but cannot find a job.
Natalia - a girl Jorge has known all of his life and with whom he is infatuated - returns from abroad to live in her parents' vacant apartment. The two instantly renew their friendship, and shy, insecure Jorge is able to move the relationship to more than just friendship - much to the delight of them both.
The scene shifts to a women's prison where Paula is severely abused by her fellow prisoners. Paula joins a prison play group were she meets Antonio who is there solely with the hope of getting some sex with the women in the group. Paula is eager to comply as pregnant prisoners lead a much better life. Try as they will, Paula isn't impregnated. They finally discover that Antonio is sterile.
It just so happens that Antonio is Jorge's older brother and is due shortly to be released. Once released Antonio convinces Jorge to pay conjugal visits to Paula in order that she become pregnant.
I know that much of what has been described appears to be a farce, but this engrossing and entertaining film definitely is not. Spanish cinema seems to have a way of viewing the dramatic - sometimes tragic - elements of life and still not ignore the little comic ironies that are always present. Azuloscurocasinegro does just that giving the viewer insight into the lives of these extremely interesting characters.
All of the acting is of ultimate quality and Quim Gutiérrez as Jorge certainly leads the pack. He offers the viewer a look at a genuine young man desperately trying to find his own way. His performance is truly heartwarming.
With all of the sub-par trash that comes out about young men trying to find themselves, this film is surely a breath of fresh air.
January 21, 2008