Alcarràs review: A simple yet moving tribute to fading traditions

Berlin: Carla Simón won the Golden Bear for this vibrant and boisterous ensemble drama about a Catalan family being evicted from their farm.

Winning the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlinale, Carla Simón’s “Alcarràs” shares its name with the tiny Catalan town where her parents grow peaches, and – like her nostalgic debut, “The Season” summer 1993″ – the title proves instructive. For all the memorable characters revolve around Simón’s ferocious portrait of a family on the verge of losing their farm (along with the shared identity that has rooted them in its soil since before the Spanish Civil War). Nha), this is the focus of a story about the land in which it is set. It’s a vibrant and boisterous fusion drama that has a bohemian cast that pulls our attention in dozens of different directions at once, but it’s also a drama that always keeps our attention on the ground. the earth is shifting under their feet, and in turn, who they will become once they are forced to stay away from it.

As with most things of real value in this world, the traditions of the Solé family seem eternal until the moment they are taken away for good. In “Alcarràs,” the first alteration mounts its head in the form of a tractor roaring through a clear blue sky and grabbing an abandoned Volkswagen, in which six-year-old Iris (Ainet Jounou, has a local cast) and her siblings had been playing just minutes before – the kids pretended the rusty old bucket was actually a spaceship flying too close to the sun.

It happened so quickly: For a minute, the idea of ​​leaving the farm was so unthinkable that young Iris couldn’t even imagine living anywhere else on Earth, and the sweet grandpa Her next sweet but mean-spirited Rogelio (Josep Abad) is reading an eviction notice as his adult son Quimet (Jordi Pujol Dolcet) haunts his father for never receiving written land use rights. copy. The farm belonged to a wealthy family who gave it to Solés in gratitude for protecting them during the war, but the newest generation of Pinyols don’t feel obligated to honor the gentleman’s deal – not when large farming made small farms unsustainable and forced. The price of fruit is so low that Joaquim Pinyol (Jacob Diarte) decided to dig up his whole tree. He bluntly assumes that Solés would be happy to trade peaches for solar panels and do half the work for twice the profit for as long as that arrangement could last, but might be difficult for people with two homes to appreciate the emotional violence of breaking up a family “always” defined by a single home.

Driven less by plot than by a sense of place, “Alcarràs” draws its chilling power from the surrounding details that reveal the history of that house. Daniela Cajías’ CCTV moves around the farm with the natural warmth of the summer breeze, happily enjoying the late afternoon sunlight and tracking the shadows that whatever the characters in Films being made in these frames can often be random.

With the exception of a few controversies throughout and a futile protest in the end, no single scene in this film is more important than the ripe vitality nurtured between them: the seasonal rhythms of a farm in motion; the noisy beat of town gossip (something about blender?); the out-of-date sounds of modern Europop as the wind carries them from the hill where Quimet’s teenage daughter is rehabbing her dance routine for the village fair.

Plots emerged, most of which reflected differences of opinion about how the Solé family should go forward. Quimet nervously searches for a solution even with his back gone, determined to keep his all-powerful teenage son focused on school instead of extracurricular ways of making money. His brother-in-law, Cisco (Carles Cabós), has little connection to the past and little flexibility about the future, only increasing the tension by ridding himself of kanji.

Of course, no one belonged to the farm as much as Solé’s estranged family patriarch – he immediately appreciated how the Pinyols betrayed the kindness Solé had shown them – but even the children were seemed more agitated and unsettled by the prospect of losing it. Simón’s observant dismissal and general disinterest in sentiment make it difficult to tell if Rogelio feels guilty for not securing his legacy or if he simply lived long enough. to see “forever” turn into a vain promise. Either way, his quiet presence evokes regret to the heart for a movie no theater often in danger of crashing, and there’s no more act of panic than in the blows. “Alcarràs” hit with quite force like the scene where Rogelio was shot to death alone. peach tree and enjoy its shade while he still can.

That indelible image speaks volumes about the power of a bittersweet movie, which is most poignant when it comes to the helplessness of its characters; Simón ends “Alcarràs” with a seemingly out-of-the-box one-two-wall punch while also confirming that this story could not have ended any other way. Her film is a tribute to a way of life that has been lost since before the arrival of the newest generation of the Solé family, and it honors that tradition with a renewed bond. defines cinema’s unique ability to return to the past and present, and to surrender the present to the past. Sometimes the movie isn’t so rushed that it seems like it’s going to last forever, but – as at the end of any magical summer – it ends up making you wonder where all the time has gone.

Rank: B +

“Alcarràs” premieres in 2022 Berlin International Film Festival. It is currently seeking US distribution.

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Olly Dawes

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