Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
Germany/Spain, 2005. Canal+ España, Eurimages, Euskal Irrati Telebista, Filmförderung Hamburg, Gobierno de Navarra, Instituto de Crédito Oficial, MEDIA Programme of the European Union, Ministerio de Cultura, Neue Impuls Film, Oria Films S.L., Pandora Films S.A., Sogecable, Televisión Española. Screenplay by Montxo Armendariz, based on the novel by Bernardo Atxaga. Cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe. Produced by Montxo Armendariz, Karl Baumgartner, Michael Eckelt. Music by Xavier Capellas. Production Design by Julio Esteban. Costume Design by Carmela Garcia, Ruth Llera. Film Editing by Rosario Sainz de Rozas.
Montxo Armendariz adapts Bernardo Atxaga’s short story collection Obabakoak with less than stellar results. A young woman decides to do her university video project on a small, remote village in Basque country, and upon arrival gets to know the locals. Befriending and beginning an affair with the village stud (Juan Diego Botto), our heroine learns about odd village superstitions (including forest lizards who like to eat brains) and is told stories about some eccentric members of the area from the past (which are where Atxaga’s stories come in). Armendariz’s invented through-line is often at odds with the tales of love, drama and death that the girl learns about, making for a viciously uneven storyline that eventually gets boring. The first flashback story, about a schoolteacher (Mad Love‘s Pilar López de Ayala) with a passion for her star pupil, is the film’s best.
Toronto International Film Festival: 2005