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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

The Fear (La Por) review (London Film Festival)

The Fear La Por green light Alicia Falco Igor Szpakowski

Brutally blunt in its depiction of domestic violence. I almost wish I hadn’t seen this film, it’s that almost completely unbearable…
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Oh god. I have never seen a film that depicts the impact of domestic violence with such brutal bluntness as this one. Working from a novel by Lolita Bosch (which does not appear to be available in English), Spanish filmmaker Jordi Cadena has crafted a film that captures the simmering terror of a family living in fear, a cinematic bruise that spouts livid and then turns even uglier. Teen Manel (Igor Szpakowski) and his mother (Roser Camí) cower in their separate bedrooms in the morning, listening as Father (Ramon Madaula) goes about his routine before leaving for the day. The little apartment seems to sigh with relief once he’s gone… and then holds its breath again as he pops back in to retrieve some forgotten essential. As the day drags on toward Father’s inevitable evening return, Cadena offers us quiet, unsettling glimpses at the deep, longterm aftereffects of his cruelty, and it is all the more unsettling because we have not actually witnessed him do anything at all abusive. But his ghost hovers like a dark cloud even when he’s not present… as in how a biology lesson at school upsets Manel by reminding him that he shares his father’s genes, and hence (Manel fears) his father’s propensity for violence. I almost wish I hadn’t seen this film, it’s that almost completely unbearable in the most literal way. I can’t see how I’ll ever forget it.

viewed during the 57th BFI London Film Festival


The Fear (La Por) (2013)
viewed on my iPad

IMDb
If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.
  • RogerBW

    While I may well not go to see this myself, I think it sounds like a good example of what political* films should be: show, don’t tell.

    * yes, this is political; it’s faintly shocking that it still should be, but quite a few US Republicans at the state level apparently reckon that opposing any sort of help for victims of domestic violence has electoral value.

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