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A real wonder. [Full Review in Spanish]
Here we are again, talking about the relationship between those of Basque descent and their complete hatred of everything and everyone that's from Spain. Though, to be fair, Ocho Apellidos Vascos took a considerably lighter approach to that dynamic than this one. And that's not to say the dynamic is super, super dark here, it's just that it's darker than a light, frothy rom-com. This deals with a group of terrorists from the ETA (imagine a Basque IRA) awaiting a call, while they're staying at this apartment complex, from their higher-ups to commit some sort of terrorist act. What that terrorist act is and how it's meant to be carried out is beyond me, but I'm certain there's some sort of explosion involved. Oh and, of course, this is all set against the backdrop of Spain making their run for the World Cup in 2010, which they actually won. Not like that South Korean movie that changed the result of a World Cup to justify killing a little girl in a melodramatic manner. Anyway, the Basque terrorists have to deal with all these displays of patriotism. So the movie deals with that dynamic and how the group interacts with the rest of the tenants in this apartment complex. If I'm gonna be honest, while parts of me really did like this movie, like the interactions between the group is great, I also have to question the film's purpose. Like I get the whole idea, it's a movie about terrorists but without any of the terrorism. Though, to be fair, I'd have to say that every member of this group, including Martin, at this point, just want to be part of the ETA, they haven't actually committed any terrorist acts per se. Ainara and Alex are lower-tier members of the organization. Pernando left his home to join the ETA. And Martin owes something to his 'boss', if he can be called that, after an event in 1998 ended up with everyone but Martin getting captured and arrested. But going back to my original point, I imagine that, if I was part of a terrorist group, a lot of it really would be just waiting around a lot. Waiting for your mission orders and whatnot. I mean, you can't be a terrorist group without some sort of organizational knowledge, otherwise it'd just be anarchists. Regardless, a lot of the comedy in the film comes from the fact that, for the a large chunk of the movie, you see a group of potential terrorists doing decidedly non-terrorist things. Like putting together jigsaw puzzle, playing trivia board games. The latter of which leads to some of the funniest moments in the film when Martin says that every answer is wrong because they, either, don't recognize Basque culture and people from within that culture or how he tries to blame Spain for obesity, tying it back to how they conquered the Americas and brought back chocolate and other unhealthy shit. And, now that I really think about it, that lack of 'action', in terms of terrorist acts from this group, is the driving force in the movie. What I mean when I have issues with the film's purpose, I guess what I mean is the secrecy behind what exactly is the group's mission. And I understand that you're meant to be as in the dark as the group themselves, but I'd have liked that to be made a little clearer, just so you could see where exactly this group stands within the organization of ETA. You don't know if their mission is of the utmost importance, though Artexte (the higher-up in question) showing up at the group's apartment, moments prior to Spain winning the cup, shows me that the mission was of some relative importance to the group. I still would have liked to have known more about what they were meant to do. The movie was never meant to explore the dynamics of the ETA and why they want what they want (to be independent), but I still would have enjoyed some clarification on certain elements of the mission. Having said that, Martin is an interesting character. Javier Camara, who portrays Martin, is excellent in the role. Mr. Camara is a top-notch actor and I find his portrayal of the character interesting in that, to me, I feel like he's trying to convince himself that he wants to be part of the ETA. While I feel that he certainly wants the Basque territory to be independent and autonomous, I don't think he wants to be as much a part of the ETA as much as he wants to make up to Artexte for what happened in 98. Though, to be fair, anyone else in that situation probably would have done the same thing. His feelings of guilt have forced him to take this mission and, honestly, it comes across like he doesn't want the call from Artexte to come through in the slightest. He does out of a sense of duty and debt that he feels he owes Artexte, but that's it. And that's an interesting character to explore, in my opinion, particularly considering how he ends up. Ainara and Alex's romantic relationship is explored and, honestly, it's not as interesting as Martin's character arc. There's some funny moments, like how Martin tells Ainara to fix things with Alex by citing treaties and other assorted legal precedents and how those compare to their current situation. I feel like those would be funnier to people from that region, who are more familiar with these treaties, but I think it works regardless. The rest of the cast is strong, so I can't complain about that. It's the typical dysfunctional motley crew you've seen before, but it's still enjoyable here thanks to these actors. And, another thing, while there's plenty of cursing here (those Spaniards are some foul-mouthed motherfuckers), I don't think they rely as much on it for its humor as I've seen in others. Not that I'm calling those films that do use it bad, since cursing is seen as more normal in that culture than it's seen here (what with the FCC and the MPAA), but it's a refreshing change of pace regardless. I don't know what else I can say about this movie. I certainly had my issues with it but, going through it, I find that I enjoyed this movie. I felt that it was a good movie. It's probably one that, again, might be more relevant to people from that culture, but I can't deny the good writing and great acting on display right here. Wouldn't give this a wholehearted recommendation, but if you've got some time to kill, this is more than a solid watch.
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