07 October, 2008
La Noche De Los Girasoles (The Night of the Sunflowers) (2006)
Spain's reputation as a leading film-producing nation continues to grow, particularly in the dark fantasy, horror/thriller genre. In recent years, directors such as Jaume Balagueró (Los sin nombre (1999), Darkness (2002) Fragile (2005)), Alejandro Amenabar (The Others (2001)) and Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later (2007)) have established their artistic credentials - now, Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo joins the list, with his taut, suspenseful thriller exploring the evil under the surface of small-town Spanish life.
Estaban (Carmelo Gomez) and his wife Gabi (Judith Diakhate) are looking for a cave of historic interest, when a random attack takes places, things turn strange very quickly, as revenge, misidentification and Machiavellian manoeuvres from the local police all come into play....
Sorry to be so vague, but revealing much more of the narrative would be a mistake. The acting is near-enough perfect, particularly from Diakhate, with her unsettling, credible take on confused hysterics. Small-town Spain is also imbued with its own distinct character. Showing remarkable assurance for a first-time feature director, Sánchez-Cabezudo takes the audience on a circular tour (somewhat akin to Memento (2000)), returning again and again to events, each time from a slightly different perspective - an interesting, involving technique, but strangely one that has the effect at times of diminishing the tension, rather than enhancing it.
No matter - ultimately, this is a morally ambiguous and very competently made curio - perhaps its overt intellectualism slows the pace a little, in the final analysis, but the first-class performances, plus marvellous music from Krishna Levy, more than compensate.
Awards: Click here for more details.
123 mins. In Spanish.