I guess this film can easily be classified as art house cinema. Shot in the beautiful locales of Spain Suburbs (it is really really beautiful), this film drags in terms of pace. This 2 plus hours movie could have been easily finished in an hour.It had an interesting story to tell but there is a thin line between cinema and realistic cinema. This one was so slow and realistic that you felt you were actually there with those people and watching their life drag.
The valley of Arratia in August 1999. Ander, a farmer well into his forties, lives with his sister Arantxa and his old mother in a remote part of rural Basque country. His is a monotonous life filled with nothing but farm work and a job at the local bicycle factory. One day Ander has an accident and breaks his leg. His limb will be in a plaster cast for two months and his sister's wedding is in next 20 days. Against his mother's wishes, the family decides to employ a Peruvian immigrant, José, in order to help out. The arrival of the new farm hand has an influence on interpersonal relationships within the family. The old woman, who barely speaks any Spanish, refuses to communicate with José, but Arantxa and Ander soon get to know José quite well. Ander particularly welcome him because this brings some joy to his otherwise monotonous life. Ander likes José but doesn't know what it means. After attending Arantxa's fiancés' stag night the men both wind up having sex with a prostitute, Reme. Reme gets quite close to José to the extent that she even realizes that Ander probably likes José. At Arantxa's wedding, at a completely unexpected moment, a sexual encounter occurs between the two men. That makes Ander question who he is. He needs a while to let it sink in and the process is complicated by the sudden death of his mother. After a quiet but at the same time eye-opening conversation with the man his mother was in love with, it is Reme who convinces Ander to be himself, simply by asking him what he will have left after his leg will have healed and Jose will no longer be required to help out. Ander, now alone requests both José and Reme to stay with him forever.
The story has very very few dialogues and most of the film is t through actions. The slow pace of the film mirrored the slow pace of rural life, and the stunning scenery helped too. But after a while pace started to make the film boring too. Acting wise everyone was good. Ander as a bored man and then later as a single alone man struggling to decide what to do was played very well by the lead actor. José was fine too and their relationship as friends and as master-worker was also shown beautifully.
Watch the film if you are ok with the draggish pace of the film. It t ends on the boring borderline. (4.5/10)
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