Antoine and his wife Olga left France for Galicia, Spain. They hope to revive the declining village where they settled, by practicing eco-responsible agriculture and by volunteering to restore abandoned houses. But their neighbours, the Xan brothers and Lorenzo Anta, accuse them of opposing the installation of wind turbines which would have enabled them to sell their small farm well. Antoine refuses to be intimidated. The tension rises beyond imagining…
Rodrigo Sorogoyen, Spanish master of film noir, bluffs us again after “Que dios nos perdones”, “El Reino” and “Madre”, three feature films evolving in disenchanted settings, each time with a renewed atmosphere and context. Here, it’s a petty quarrel that turns to harassment and death threats, with on the one hand those who could only appear as privileged sores in search of bucolic authenticity and on the other those who don’t could have been portrayed as simple-minded scumbags. The reality of each other turns out, fortunately, to be more complex, despite an air of deja vu. Empathy is obvious for these sincere environmental activists, it is ultimately not much less so for their opponents.
Denis Ménochet proves again here that he is a decidedly unique actor in his ability to be both massive and fragile. Marina Foïs, discreet in the first part, takes her place as a tenacious woman seeking to know the truth during an epilogue that unfolds patiently. Their deep love then finds its place, far from exacerbated virile confrontations. They face two disturbing faces, the talkative Luis Zahera and the silent Diego Anido, who hide nothing of their hostility for these foreigners who want to impose their vision of the peasantry on “their” lands. Their anger is expressed with excess but is not so illegitimate against this outside world which only remembers them to get rid of them. They wage their struggle with the energy of despair, overwhelmed by the lack of prospects for which they judge their neighbors solely responsible.
The highlight of this great film is a directing lesson that brings out the power of endemic male violence. A discussion over a drink in the local bar, masterfully written and heavy with innuendo, where two men talk to each other and finally seem able to listen to each other before their disagreement seems irreconcilable. A new example of the will of this still underestimated great director (“As Bestas” was only out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival) to continue the desperate inventory that he draws of his country through the cinema of gender.
Drama by Rodrigo Sorogoyen, with Denis Ménochet, Marina Foïs, Luis Zahera, Anido Lorenzo and Marie Colomb.