Notes on lonely lives
by Vitor Pinto
Discovered in the Directors Fortnight in 2003 with his feature debut The Hours of the Day, Spanish director Jaime Rosales is back on the Croisette with his new film Solitary Fragments [+see also:
film profile], screening today in the Un Certain Regard section.
The female-driven film – spanning the lives of three sisters, their mother and a woman whose baby died in a terrorist attack – is, above all, a formal and narrative exercise. Polyvision plays a major role in this project, with the screen divided into two parts. Rosales decided to project onto each part different shots of the same scene, which focus either on characters' close-ups or simply on the set. Actors often remain out of the frame – a risky choice, which effectively gives the film a contemplative style, never overshadowing, through a simple follow-up of the plot.
"An artist should try to get into new ways of expression, but not at any cost,” said Rosales “In this case, the process comes together with the characters' conflicts. They feel an urge to be together, but they can't be."
An atypical ensemble piece divided in five chapters, the script could have easily become a full blown tearful melodrama, yet (just like when the characters "hide" out of the frame) Rosales also decided to hide some of the plot's most dramatic moments, or at least the most immediate consequences of turning-point scenes.
Only very few full-on clashes between characters actually take place, which requires from audiences a capacity to read between the lines and see beyond silence. Particular mention goes to Petra Martínez, who incarnates a perfect combination of fragility and strength in the role of a mother who has to cope with the conflict of her three daughters.
Shot in seven weeks on a €1.7m budget, Solitary Fragments was co-produced by Fresdeval Films, In Vitro Films and Wanda Vision, with the support of TVE, ICAA and the Media Programme. Germany's The Match Factory is handling international sales.
Evaluating what changed from his first to the second feature, Rosales is quoted as saying that he "has preserved his artistic integrity while the production process got industrialised".
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