The Bar (El bar) (2017)
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Critic Reviews for The Bar (El bar)
[Director] Álex de la Iglesia finds a way to orchestrate a solid, coherent and controlled outcome, against the 'anything goes' present in some of his previous long films. [Full review in Spanish]
Suspicions and doubts go through everyone... [Full review in Spanish]
In Álex de la Iglesia's metropolitan siege flick, humans prove the deadliest virus... The result is an over-the-top, below-the-bottom comic melodrama that in the end puts human behaviour under the microscope.
Audience Reviews for The Bar (El bar)
A hysterical and irritating movie that cannot even justify its own existence, forcing us to sit through a brainless plot (the explanation for its mystery is pathetic and embarrassingly stupid) and witness a group of characters yelling without end amid some disgusting scatology.
Alex de la Iglesia is one of those filmmakers with a style all his own. He's got an interesting and, quite frankly, irreverent approach to characters and visuals that, I don't wanna say he's one of the best at this, but he always finds tense situations to put his characters in, where that brings out some really strong performances from his actors. I haven't seen as many of his movies as I'd have liked, but out of those that I've seen (The Last Circus, Witching & Bitching, Mi Gran Noche and this one), I've enjoyed every single of them. So, yes, SPOILER ALERT, I ended up liking this movie. Though I will say that, while it contains De La Iglesia's usual dark humor, I found this to be, surprisingly, his most straightforward movie, at least out of the ones I've seen. Then again, I'd say that it's the most straightforward up to a certain point. Perhaps this approach might be seen as a negative in that this film does not share the many disparate plot threads from Mi Gran Noche or the strangeness and weirdness of both Witching and Bitch and The Last Circus. But I think it also allows him to tell a more concise story about the nature of human behavior when faced with a situation where they don't know exactly what's happening. These strangers find themselves trapped in this bar when two people are murdered just in front of it. Fearful for their lives, they decide to hole themselves up in the bar and, hopefully, wait for some help from the official authorities to arrive. While there, naturally, the group start becoming mistrustful of one another and start throwing accusations around about who the terrorist might be, which they theorized might be one of the reasons they're being kept inside the bar and shot when one of them tries to leaves. Imagine something like The Mist minus the giant monsters trying to attack everybody. Again, it's a movie about how human behavior. This is one of the film's promotional lines (and a character mentions it as well), but it's about how fear shows us who we really are. And there's something to be said about that. The only real 'heroic' character, if he can be called that, was the second person to have died, as he went to help the first person that was shot, who was showing signs of life. He's the only person, out of everyone else in the movie, that, in spite of dying, died with his conscience clear. Sure, what good is a clear conscience when you're dead, but it is something that's worth pointing out. The characters inside aren't cowardly for not going out to help a human in need, given what just happened, they're acting out of their own instinct to survive. That doesn't make anyone cowardly or 'evil'. Anyway, there's some weird things in the movie, like the two bodies that are inside the bar all of a sudden disappear, as if what happened to them didn't actually happen. I suppose you could explain that by what came later, in that the government is trying to manipulate the information that comes out of the bar by making it look like a fire inside the bar instead of a virus outbreak. It's possible that while these people inside the bar were debating what went wrong and who inside is guilty that the government came, removed the bodies and cleaned up the blood, but I still would have liked some clarifications on that. I also do believe that the explanation, or what the people in the bar believe to be the explanation for what happens, comes surprisingly early in the film. Like 35-40 minutes in they figure out what's happening, or they come close to as believable a theory as they could come up with given the information available to them at that time. I suppose they had to figure it out earlier, if you wanted to keep going with the themes of fear and survival being the motivating factors for the characters' actions. And the movie does do a very good job of that. It also does a great job at keeping you in suspense as to who the real villain is. There's no one major villain per se, though at the end there is one, but you're never sure who you can or can't trust. People you didn't think were capable of betraying someone else for their own gain DO end up doing exactly that. Perhaps the movie is a little too obvious for its own good. What I mean by that is that the movie is a little forceful with this theme of what fear does and how it makes us act. I understand the movie had to keep you guessing until the very end, but you get the point. Fear makes people do things they, theoretically, would never do. Though, I will say, that the movie does keep things interesting enough that it's never to the detriment of the quality. It's just something worth pointing out. The last act of the film is quite great, with Nacho and Elena on the run, while in the sewers, from Israel (the homeless guy who spouts bible verses whenever he can). It's certainly straightforward, but I thought it was very effective thanks to Jaime Ordonez's performance as this bible-thumping madman. And that's another thing, the casting, of course, is very strong all around. No complaints from me on that front. I will say, though, that while I thought this movie was very good, as a whole, I didn't always feel that way. I don't know, the whole thing sort of plays out like you would expect. There's nothing really all that surprising or inventive about this. Which is a bit of a disappointment considering who wrote and directed the film. It's always good, but it's just that and nothing else, for the most part. What did push it over the edge was the climax of Israel just losing his mind and that's why this gets the rating it did. Having said all of that, I'd recommend this movie if you thought that the human-centric stuff in The Mist was great. It'd be a good movie to watch anyway. Though, again, much like a lot of movies from Spain, an understanding of Spanish goes a long way, because the insults they use here have no real, legitimate translations in English. They try to translate it, but it doesn't even come close to capturing the essence of the savagery of the insult. Anyway, this was very good, so I'm not gonna be pissed about that, obviously.
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