Can't Say Goodbye: A journey to nowhere
by Alfonso Rivera
- At the 20th Malaga International Film Festival, Lino Escalera has unveiled this hard-hitting, poignant and truthful film about a father and daughter who embark on a useless flight
We can run away from our problems, relationships and commitments, but when death comes calling, it will hunt us down and snatch us, wherever we might be. From this basic premise, and with a massive boost in the form of Pablo Remón’s (Cinco metros cuadrados [+see also:
interview: Max Lemcke
film profile]) superb script, Lino Escalera has created an intricate, profound and moving debut film that speaks to us about family, the weight of the past and the ways we (mis)communicate with one another. Can't Say Goodbye [+see also:
interview: Lino Escalera
film profile] (No sé decir adiós) was shown in competition in the official section at the 20th Malaga Spanish Film Festival, and it seems highly unlikely that the perfectly oiled team behind the film will leave this beautiful Mediterranean city without at least one award.
A topflight cast brings together three generations of performers, including the irrepressible and always convincing veteran actor Juan Diego, two actresses at the height of their craft, Lola Dueñas and Nathalie Poza, and a couple of fresh new faces taking on this demanding profession with everything they’ve got: Oriol Plá, from Catalonia, and Malaga-born Emilio Palacios, who has impressed audiences in recent years with prominent roles in The Heroes of Evil [+see also:
film profile]andRumbos [+see also:
film profile]. On their shoulders, particularly those of the first three, falls the responsibility of giving life and breath to a set of characters drawn with pinpoint precision by Remón; individuals who become real to us from the very first scene through their body language, their glances, their words and, above all, their silences. The things they leave unsaid, the things they conceal, and the things they shy away from express just as much as the words that come out of their mouths — words which are not always the most well-chosen in the circumstances, testimony to our universal human frailty. In this respect, the direction provided by Escalera, who learned the ropes from the masterful Fernando Piernas, is a huge asset to the film.
The father and two daughters at the heart of the story (together with a mother conspicuous by her absence) form a family scarred by events that took place some years ago. Although the wounds are still festering, the time has come to heal, or at least to try; but nobody around here possesses the surgical skills required to quench this kind of pain. But time is ticking on, death is drawing nearer and they need to do something, even if that just means they keep on running. Lino Escalera has succeeded in transposing a multi-layered screenplay into a stream of deftly constructed scenes, painstaking in frame choice, composition, music and colour, which faithfully capture the ambiguous, buried and very relatable emotions that Pablo Remón wove into his script.
A compelling debut, there is no shortage of humour in Can't Say Goodbye, despite the tense drama of the plot; unexpected glimmers of levity appear even at the most critical moments. There is even some speculation of a Goya nomination next year in the Best New Director category. What we can say for certain is that it’s a film that stays with you, its themes and characters leaving a trace in the mind that persists for some days after, deeply moved, you file slowly out of the cinema — and that’s not something you find every day.
(Translated from Spanish)
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