Film Review: Alcarràs

FIFTY+SA Arts Reviewer, Dave Bradley, reviews the Spanish-Italian drama film directed by Carla Simón, Alcarràs.

Director Carla Simón’s follow-up to her Summer 1993 (2017) is an ensemble drama featuring a mostly unknown cast, and while there’s much quietly understated power here, it tends to go on a bit.

However, it’s hard to know where this filmmaker could have cut. Simón’s tale takes place in the Catalan town of the title (and in the Western dialect Lleidatà) with players from the region, and centres upon an extended family of peach farmers who have worked there since shortly after the Spanish Civil War.

We first meet young Iris (Ainet Jounou), who’s playing in an abandoned car with her twin cousins until the vehicle’s removed by an excavator. This is the ominous first sign of what’s to come, and while the older actors get higher billing, she’s the one who dominates the proceedings, watching the bewildering adult events and serving as a cheeky Greek Chorus.

In the longtime home of the clan, Quimet (Jordi Pujol Dolcet) is horrified to discover that his elderly father Rogelio (Josep Abad) never signed any contract, and that, therefore, the house they’ve always lived in technically belongs to the rich Pinyols. They’ll need to be out by the end of the summer and their final, traditional harvest, and we watch as they struggle to deal – or not deal – with what’s looming.

There are so many characters here: Quimet’s teen son Roger (Albert Bosch) works and parties hard; teen daughter Mariona (Xènia Roset) fears losing her friends; their Mum Dolors (Anna Otin) worries and argues; and although it looks like Rogelio might be in the first stages of dementia, his withdrawn state’s more to do with his sense of awful responsibility for the family’s situation. And how he naively thought that common decency meant that they would never have to leave this beautiful place.

With a keen sense of naturalism (lived-in locations, faded clothes, sometimes wobbly camera), Simón’s film is less openly political than, say, the UK films of Ken Loach – but it’s no less angry. Yet that anger is rarely expressed, and is left to simmer away in this gorgeous landscape that’s just waiting to be destroyed by monstrous developers.

3.5 out of 5 STARS

Alcarràs is in cinemas now


We would like to acknowledge the Kaurna people as the custodians of the lands and waters of the Adelaide region.

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