by Alfonso Rivera
16/11/2012 - It has been an unfairly long wait for Jorge Torregrossa (Alicante, 1973)'s feature debut. Those who enjoyed his magnificent award-winning shorts (like Desire and Women in a Train) longed to let themselves be captivated by his talent in superior formats, even more so after he managed to ennoble several of the most watched series on Spanish television.
Now, after trying to set up a few ambitious projects that - sadly - did not take off, The End has arrived and wishes have been fulfilled (it passing through the Toronto Film Festival opened the doors of the international market), albeit somewhat hesitantly. Let's start with the subject in which Torregrossa is -- still -- weak: action scenes. In this part of the narration, the director has paid the price of inexperience and one feels a lack of panache in shots that should instead have sped up the audience's heartbeat. But, in the film's other main trait, in its X-ray view of the characters' psychology (what they hide and what they let appear in their gestures, looks, and body language), the relationships between them, and the rarified atmosphere that slowly takes over the feature, he shows more muscle than training.
Beneath its appearance of a mainstream film, The End is, more than anything else, an existential film. It speaks of destiny, what we are, wounds from the past, and how we are conditioned by the gaze of those who surround us. For it, basing themselves of the novel of the same name by David Monteagudo, Jorge Guerricaechevarría (Álex de la Iglesia's usual screenwriter and that of Daniel Monzón's Unit 211) and Sergio G. Sánchez (J.A. Bayona's right-hand man for The Orphanage and The Impossible) wrote a storyline that follows the characters of Félix (Daniel Grao) and Eva (Clara Lago) as they set off to a cabin in the middle of the woods to meet some of his old friends.
They include Maribel (Maribel Verdú), Felix's former lover who is now married to the surly Rafa (Antonio Garrido), the insecure, warm, and positive Sara (Carmen Ruiz), and the couple made up by the charming Hugo (top model Andrés Velencoso, first role for cinema) and the sour Cova (Blanca Romero, who had to deal with the script's vaguest character). But, although he has still not arrived, a character nicknamed The Prophet, who according to Sara convened the reunion, has already cast his shadow over the event: Years ago, all those present played a nasty trick on him.
But just when it seems that we are going to see a unconfessed remake of I Know What You Did Last Summer, the film changes tone. As it unravels its dialogues, a threatening Mother Nature sets about harassing the characters. There is no electricity, no mobile phone coverage, and it seems no one left on the planet. Just them. Something fell fell from the sky, but they don't know what it is. Panic will slowly take over all eight characters, as the resuscitated past takes its toll, the present fades away, and the future becomes uncertain. It's the end, the limit, perhaps nothingness.
A melancholy, psychological, and nihilist nightmare that Torregrossa has nourished with his obsessions: ambiguity, suppressed desire, and disenchantment. The result is a film that looks commercial -- it is already being compared to the television series Lost -- but that hides strong doses of depth.