My Favourite Spanish Film: También la lluvia (Even the Rain)

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When Aurora from Once Upon a Screen announced that she would be back hosting her Hispanic Heritage Blogathon, I couldn’t resist writing about my favourite Spanish movie: También la lluvia, directed by Icíar Bollaín and released in 2010. Since I participated to the last edition of the blogathon with my entry on Sarita Montiel in Vera Cruz, I became much more familiar with the Spanish cinema since, last year, I attended a class on the subject at university. I can positively say that it is now one of my favourite national cinemas. I even went to Spain last May. Beautiful country!

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When one thinks about Spanish cinema, the name we are all most familiar with is Pedro Almodóvar. As great as he is, there is, however, much more to explore in the Spanish cinema world. Before I watched También la lluvia for the first time, I didn’t know what to expect as I had never heard of this movie before. It was pretty much a “wait and see” situation. And well, as I’ve said before, it became my favourite Spanish film.

The film is a Spanish production but takes place in Bolivia. A film crew from Spain has come to the city of Cochabamba to shoot a movie about Christopher Columbus. The director, Christopher (Gael García Bernal),  and the executive producer, Costa (Luis Tosar), are accompanied by Maria (Cassandra Ciangherotti), who is making a documentary about the film. The city where they decided to shoot is struggling with a major problem: the government prevents the population to have a free access to water and ask them to pay money they don’t have in order to have an access to this vital resource. Inevitably, manifestations against the government start and become more and more violent. The city soon becomes a dangerous place for the film crew to stay and the shooting becomes more and more difficult, especially since one of the actors, Daniel (Juan Carlos Aduviri) is one of the main leaders of these manifestations.

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One of the main reasons why this film is my favourite Spanish one is because it made me discover Gael García Bernal whom, I think, is a truly gifted actor. People might be more familiar with the Mexican actor for his roles in Y Tu Mamá También (And Your Mother Too) or Diarios de motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries), but También la lluvia is one not to miss. And I have an interesting anecdote to tell you about this actor: One of my mother’s good friends is a movie maker from Venezuela and she knows Gael quite well because she met him in some Cuban film festival a few times, him and Diego Luna (his co-star in Y Tu Mamá También). And, apparently, she even danced with him! :O :O But she told me that, if she ever goes back to the festival, that I should come with her so she could introduce me to him (hoping he’s there). Wouldn’t that be amazing?! 😀

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It’s interesting how the film reunites both Spanish actors from Spain and from South America. But the film presents many interesting contrasts and these are not only reflected in the casting, but also in the story itself. We face two problematic situations: on a side a movie crew with a restricted budget who hopes to finish a movie, and, on the other side, a population who struggles for their right of access to water. If, for some of the characters, to finish the film is more important than their own safety due to the violence in the city or more important than the problem itself causing this violence, the film, however, shows us that one can change for the better when a situation becomes critical.

With this problem concerning water, the film shows us that it’s sometimes the most anodyne things that can create riots. A Canadian like me couldn’t ever think of a restricted access to water since Canada is the country with the country with the biggest resources of pure water in the world, but, in this little city of Bolivia, the cost of water makes us understand that this natural resource is as precious as a diamond, even more. It is vital and essential. This aspect of the film was, by the way, based on real-life events.

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When I first saw the film, there’s a shot toward the beginning during the opening credits that made me realized that it would be a great film. The introduction (the casting scene, before the opening titles) told me that it would be interesting narratively, but this precise shot told me that it would also be the case visually. We see a helicopter carrying a big cross that will be used for the Christopher Columbus film. The helicopter flies over magnificent mountainous landscapes. It is simply breathtaking. Because of the cross, this scene sort of makes me think of the one in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita where a helicopter carries a statue of Jesus. Surely, Icíar Bollaín was inspired… Or not. But I wouldn’t be surprised she was.

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In this scene, we also hear the music score by Alberto Iglesias. This is another of my favourite aspects of the film. It’s a majestic score, very cinematographic and it matches the film perfectly, both for its narrative and visual aspects. Alberto Iglesias also worked with Pedro Almodóvar.

Except for the fact that it is generally a great film and that it won Awards, one of the best reasons to watch También la lluvia is that it was directed by a woman. We know that movies directed by women are much less numerous than the ones directed by men, so, when one can seize the occasion, it is not to be missed. The film was initially supposed to be directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (Biutiful, Birdman, The Revenant), but Icíar Bollaín directed instead and I’m glad of it. I wonder how different it would have been if Inarritu would have directed it. I saw another film directed by Bollaín which is called Flores de otro mundo (Flowers from Another World). It is not as good as También la lluvia, but it’s an appreciable film and I would also recommend it if you want to see more Spanish movies.

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I want to thank Auror, once again, for hosting this blogathon! It’s always a pleasure to participate. 🙂

Don’t forget to check the other entries!

Hollywood’s Hispanic Heritage Blogathon

I’ll leave you with this top 10 of my favourite Spanish speaking movies.

Enjoy!

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Irish Film Studies: Irish Horror and The Hallow

This semester, I’m attending a course on Irish cinema. Each week, we are expected to write a blog-like journal about the film we watched in class and/or our class discussion about the film. I’ve decided to include those entries to my blog, so it would be more agreeable to read than a Word document. This is my journal entry for Iris horror cinema and The Hallow (week 13).

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I’m not really a fan of horror films, because I don’t like that much being scared, but, as a subject of discussion, I’ve always found it fascinating. Our last class was about Irish horror cinema and the film The Hallow (a quite recent one as it was released in 2015). It allowed me to have a view of the genre in a more analytical way than simply watch a scary movie and hide behind my pillows.

This semester, we’ve explored the way many different genres were expressed through the Irish nationalism: war movie with The Wind the Shakes the Barkley, biopic with Nora, Western with The Quiet Man, Noir with Odd Man Out (although Noir is not a genre, but more an aesthetic), teen movie with Disco Pigs, etc. It is always interesting to see the approach that is taken by different movie industries in order to develop a genre with their own signature. Sure,  The Quiet Man is an American film, but it takes place in Ireland and the idea of Irish nationalism is present enough.

But let’s get back to our main subject.

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In the 2000s, Ireland began to witness a new wave or Irish horror movies such as Winter’s Head, Eclipse or, of course, The Hallow. Ian Cornish says of contemporary horror that it “provides a transcultural experience, one that demonstrates the striking presence of the genre globally and the levels of influence and crossover between different national forms and identities ” (1). Indeed, it seems that the different symbols of this nationalism have to be expressed in a horrific form. The thing is to find what the various elements of the film have anything to do with Irish culture and try to find their meaning, importance.

Sure, The Hallow is set in an Irish forest, but, except for this obvious element of “Irishness”, there’s more to it. Indeed, for example, in one of the two film reviews we read in class, it was indicated that the film was inspired by Irish mythology. The idea of folklore certainly has an important place in this film where the characters isolate themselves in a forest in a context of economic crisis.

Finally, I found interesting the observation that horror films are often very conservatives (fear of the unknown, the change, the madness, etc.). This goes in the same line of our week on Hush-a-Bye Baby where we learn about the Irish conservatism toward sexuality. Of course, this is something different, but the idea of traditional values is still here.

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Words: 417

Source:

(1) Conrich, Ian. ‘Introduction: Horror Zone.’ Horror Zone: the Cultural Experience of Contemporary Horror Cinema. IB Tauris, 2009.

Images sources

“Film Review: The Hallow (2015).” Horror News, Sept. 2, 2016, http://horrornews.net/105577/film-review-the-hallow-2015/.

“The Hallow: la critique.” Films- Horreur.com, Mar. 10, 2016, http://www.films-horreur.com/2016/03/the-hallow/.