Released by: Film Movement
Released on: 5.8.12
Director: Fernando Leon de Aranoa
Cast: Magaly Solier, Celso Bugallo, Pietro Sibille
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Dying, death and what to do with it afterward are the themes in this disc from Film Movement. The primary film, Amador
, comes from Spain and concerns itself with exploring themes of how to find one’s place in the world, within the spiralling nature of life itself.
The main character here is Marcela (Magaly Solier), a young immigrant worker who’s feeling very unfulfilled by life. Her boyfriend, Nelson (Pietro Sibille), seems only interested in his flower stealing-selling business and, as the film opens, she’s written him a goodbye letter and heads out the door. But that proves too much for her and she collapses, only to awaken in a hospital to discover that she happens to be pregnant. Not able to deal with all this at once she returns to her and Nelson’s apartment, putting aside both her plans to leave him as well as informing him that she’s expecting.
At Nelson’s insistence Marcela takes up another job, a caretaker position for an old man who’s slowly dying. Hired by the man’s daughter who can’t be bothered with this work as her family life is far too busy, Marcela is just happy for some stability in her life. While the daughter is away for a couple months finishing their new house it’s Marcela’s job to perform the low-impact daily care of him. The old man, Amador (Celso Bugallo), is pretty much bedridden but that’s about it. He begins conversing more and more with Marcela who quickly becomes more of a companion than caretaker. He’s a clever old socialist, striking a contrast to Marcela’s quiet, timid Catholic personality.
But they end up sharing quite a bit with each other, especially Marcela since Amador is still quite perceptive about her life. They talk/argue about the nature of life, of God, of family. They share a unique moment, though, when he realizes that she’s pregnant and asks to speak to the unborn child. Marcela is a little reluctant but lets him proceed to basically offer his spot in life to the growing thing inside her. She’s unsure of what to do with this type of charge and it grows in importance as the film progresses.
Amador works on a jigsaw puzzle - something Marcela just doesn’t understand the point of doing - and uses it to teach her one final lesson about life. “You are given all the pieces before you’re born,” he lectures her. “It’s your responsibility to figure out how to fit them together.” This leaves Marcela very confused as she doesn’t agree with that notion at all, thinking life as a series of events that happen to you, ordered by a benevolent deity instead. However, Amador soon passes away and Marcela is panic-stricken: She needs to take care of this situation but she also desperately needs the money from the job, too. “Why’d he have to leave so soon? Couldn’t he wait just a little longer?” she laments to Puri (Fanny De Castro), an aging prostitute who has a weekly “appointment” with Amador.
As Marcela continues to try and cover the reality of her situation (using flowers and aerosol) things quickly start to unravel for her otherwise. Inquisitive pharmacists and nosey neighbors make her task more difficult but Nelson’s constant unwillingness to face the future with her and is infidelities push her to a brink. But with Puri’s help and companionship she’s able to eventually work out a routine that will lead her ultimately to becoming a stronger person, one that can stand fully on her own, taking her life in her own hands with both care and respect.
The production quality for this disc from Film Movement is up to their usual excellent standards. The widescreen 16:9 image is exceptionally clear on this DVD and while the cinematography never pushes its limits the tone and balance are nevertheless very well done. Audio is served up in Spanish (w/ English subtitles) with Dolby Digital 2.0 and it’s employed well, too.
Like other Film Movement discs this DVD comes with the film’s trailer plus trailers for other Film Movement titles. It also includes brief bios for the director and star. The short film this time around also deals with how people relate to someone’s passing and how sometimes all preparations can be meaningless. The short, How It Ended
, by Gabriel Nussbaum, is based on a short story by James Salter and concerns itself with a woman (Debra Winger) who’s dying from a disease, her husband and a young female friend. The couple invite the young woman to dinner out and it’s clear from some visual cues that this is to be the woman’s last night alive. After returning from dinner she retires to bed and the husband gives her a nice big dose of morphine to end her suffering. Then he and the young woman get it on, only to find the next morning that things didn’t quite go as planned. The slap-in-the-face cynicism of this short’s ending playfully points to our inability to ever truly, appropriately prepare for death.
Flowers and puzzles dominate the symbolism in Amador
- the former are noted by Nelson as “always being needed” for all of life’s big moments: Love, life and death. Others note that flowers are the only thing in Nature that retain beauty after they die. Here, they seem to represent the emotional quality of life, whether used for making money (like Nelson), to hide the truth (in Amador’s room after he’s passed away) or romantically. But that covers all of life’s most important activities. And then, in order to handle the truths of life, it becomes necessary for humanity to assemble the final picture from all the available pieces, a picture that means more because they themselves have had a hand in its completion. Marcela’s maturation throughout the film clearly demonstrates this with charm and sincerity, making Amador
a special film dealing with tough subject matter.