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Review: Yesterday Never Ends

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Drowning in the crisis


- In every single way: socially and personally. Two standalone characters find themselves in this situation in a brave, audacious and very painful film on the terrible moment we are going through.

Review: Yesterday Never Ends

Isabel Coixet doesn’t want people to know much about her film. She wants her audience to be surprised and arrive uncontaminated from information, avoiding those types of trailers which say too much and destroy any sense of the unexpected. Because of this, her film’s placard delivers one image – that of a woman seen through transparent glass – blurry, suggestive, enigmatic.

This air of surreal mystery, but at the same time, crude violence, affects everything in Yesterday Never Ends [+see also:
film focus
interview: Isabel Coixet
interview: Isabel Coixet
interview: Javier Camara
festival scope
film profile
, an anti-crisis manifesto by a film director who through documentary Escuchando al juez Garzón and her contribution to ¡Hay motivo!, has repeatedly proven that she is socially aware and ready to use her platform to denounce situations.

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Thanks to the film she is now presenting at the Berlin Film Festival 2013, she is turning to fiction to shout out against the dehumanizing effects of fundamental social infrastructure cuts like public heath and the resentment that the political class is causing in people. An ugly set of circumstances which ends up being the motor for a claustrophobic story, full of regrets, in which only two actors - Javier Cámara (one of the Catalan director’s regulars) and Candela Peña - play the part of a couple carrying the burden of what they have never said to each other.

And once they see each other again after years, internal volcanoes erupt and the lava gurgles, opening old wounds. In order to express the desolation of current society, the filmmaker isolates her actors into solitary, cold and empty places, reminiscent of Tarkovskiy. This serves to accentuate current frames of mind: bizarre and fascinating landscapes painted in colour one minute and black and white another. The first represent the official world, the second represent what the characters think and repress, but what they would like to scream – something they do not do out of modesty, education, habit or to avoid hurting the other’s feelings.

The dual between Cámara and Peña thus transforms itself into a succession of reprimands. They are taken over by bitterness and pain, and each deals with this in different ways. Their reactions become a symbol for what is going on because of the economic and social crisis around them: to either bask in the pain and tragedy of it all, or try and run away from it, no matter the cost.

Dialogue is the only action in a film which will be branded “theatrical”. A conversation/discussion which acts as scaffolding to a film which has rested its credibility on this aspect, although it is not always as good as the emotions expressed, the ostentation and the denunciation its director-screenwriter is trying to achieve. Because the words used are trying to encompass everything, from the personal, to the political, to the lived and the dreamt, the felt and the suppressed, the amount of speech ends up being exhausting. Too much intensity, so many tears – not all of them visible – and all of the situation’s problems seen in such close up for ninety minutes may end up suffocating audiences. A little lightness would have been appreciated. A few minutes to breathe and relax would have reduced the reigning discomfort and some of the repetitions. Because at the end, when the warm sun, sought out by Candela Peña’s character at the beginning of the story, finally arrives, a feeling of iciness takes over as you look on. Coixet most probably wanted to create such an emotion in her spectators, but some of the public may not be ready to be exposed to such an emotion.

(Translated from Spanish)


international title: Yesterday Never Ends
original title: Ayer no termina nunca
country: Spain
sales agent: Gaumont
year: 2013
directed by: Isabel Coixet
cast: Javier Cámara, Candela Peña

main awards/selection

Berlinale 2013 Panorama Special
Festival de Cine de Málaga 2013 

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