Review: The Year of Fury
- Rafa Russo attempts to show how people experienced the moments just prior to the advent of the Uruguayan dictatorship in this exciting and relevant ensemble thriller
The final scene of The Year of Fury [+see also:
interview: Rafa Russo
film profile] is beautiful, exhilarating and even poetic. In it, a throng of citizens turn on their vehicles’ windscreen wipers at the same time: it’s a gesture bristling with symbolism, a spirit of protest and the yearning for freedom. In the lead-up to this moment, Rafa Russo, its director and screenwriter, gradually outlines the oppressive and increasingly tense atmosphere that enveloped Montevideo in the early 1970s, just before a military dictatorship did away with the Uruguayan people’s fundamental rights.
Enjoyable is one word to describe this return – and a great one at that – to the director’s chair by one of the most tireless scriptwriters in Spanish cinema, who only has one previous feature to his name as a director, Love in Self Defense, although he has helmed various short films and penned the screenplays for TV movies of the likes of Concepcion Arenal (2012) and Clara Campoamor, la mujer olvidada (2010). Now Russo has once again tackled a political topic, but this time he relies on a sizeable group of characters in order to show how people experienced that turbulent period in history, while simultaneously reminding us that we are never safe from fascism, that deadly virus for which, unfortunately, there is no vaccine.
And so, the camera focuses on the faces of the actors, who breathe life into people ranging from television screenwriters (Joaquín Furriel and Alberto Amman) whose freedom of expression is in jeopardy, to a soldier who tortures people (Daniel Grao) and who is in a relationship with a prostitute (Martina Gusmán) in order to forget about his atrocious acts. Almost all of them come together in a hostel run by a Spanish woman (Maribel Verdú), the mother of a young female political fighter (Sara Sálamo).
With exteriors shot on location in Montevideo (a city where the monuments and streets from the era in which the action of this feature unfolds are kept intact) and interiors filmed in Madrid, The Year of Fury oozes a thriller vibe as it portrays how fear gradually poisoned not only professional relationships, but also romantic ones and friendships, serving as an omen of the dire tragedy to come.
Despite the fact that there are a few confusing moments in amongst the heavily character-based storyline, Russo (who has acknowledged his admiration for The Year of Living Dangerously by Peter Weir, a legendary title with which it shares its tone and intentions) has been able to close off the story arc of each of them, without censoring its grittiest or most dramatic moments, thus portraying how these tense events brought out the best and the worst in humankind, but without overlooking all the nuances in between. Because each person acted in a unique and different way when faced with such an incredibly tough situation – one that we will never be prepared for.
The Year of Fury is a production by Spanish outfits Gona and Aliwood Mediterráneo Producciones, in co-production with Cimarrón (Uruguay). It was supported by the Ibermedia programme, the ICAA and RTVE. It is released in Spain on 28 May, courtesy of Filmax (which is also selling it overseas), after previously taking part in various gatherings of the likes of Seminci, Warsaw and BCN Film Fest, among others.
(Translated from Spanish)
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