The Fury of a Patient Man: The man who lost his smile
by Alfonso Rivera
- VENICE 2016: The directorial debut of actor Raul Arévalo is a wild, bold, harsh and resolutely arthouse film, shot with a confidence and intensity that are surprising for a debut feature
The directorial debut of Raúl Arévalo, an actor who is popular with all Spanish filmmakers, has been eagerly awaited by audiences. Ever since he made his big screen debut ten years ago in Azul [+see also:
film profile] by Daniel Sánchez Arévalo, in which he played young homosexual man Israël, Raul has not stopped bringing us great films, showing us along the way that he is worthy of the title of a good all-round actor. Of course, no genre can resist him. Right now, whilst we wait to see him in ambitious period drama Oro by Agustín Díaz Yanes (set in the age of conquests – see article), we can see his first piece as a director, The Fury of a Patient Man [+see also:
interview: Raúl Arévalo
film profile], in Venice Film Festival's Orizzonti section, which shows that the Madrid-born actor-turned-director really has paid close attention to what he has seen, experienced and endured on the film sets of others. Indeed, this is not a film that leaves us feeling indifferent. And it does so by making us feel like we’re taking a risk, with a maturity and personal style every bit as good as most of the films he’s been in, which has enabled him to establish himself as one of the best Spanish actors around today.
The Fury of a Patient Man, produced by Beatriz Bodegas (see article), who risked everything with this, her fifth film, fully placing her trust in newbie director Arevalo right from the screenplay, is an example of highly stylised Spanish film, with a mind-blowing plot and style of directing handled with such brilliance that it takes your breath away, and a visceral style in which the passionate nature of this debut director is clearly identifiable.
Right from the opening scene, which takes place in a car, the film grabs hold of the viewer and leads them in pursuit of the characters, sticking to them like glue – indeed, although we are initially left feeling like the conjoined twin of Luis Callejo, we are then made to feel the same way about Antonio de la Torre. Both are depicted here like animals in a cage, both physically and emotionally – they are full of rage, ready to snap at any moment –, the former due to his fiery temper, the latter because he has a plan he has been hatching for a long time. The surprise twist in the plot pops up like a hare out of its warren from this human cage, a creation worthy of a talented disciple of Saura at the beginning of his career or Peckinpah: sweat drips from the filthy walls of the neighbourhood bars and gyms, violence sullies everything, skewing people’s perspectives, and the bitterness referred to by the film’s original title (lit. ‘(too) late for anger’) makes for a stifling atmosphere.
Arevalo alternates moderation and narrative skill with moments of impulse and stylistic excess as he deploys an astounding plot straight from the heart, which demands a lot of confidence and intuition. The camera focuses on the characters’ faces and moves around them, portraying them as they are. The sound (the sound of the wind, like the rumbling of a motor) pummels the ears like a painful memory, and the understated soundtrack by Lucio Godoy adds to the overall effect without reinforcing it. Last but not least, the landscapes (the urban landscapes of the suburbs of Madrid and the rural landscapes of the province of Segovia) give the film an epic ugliness reminiscent of the western genre born on both sides of the Atlantic. Sometimes the violence is hard to swallow, but it is never impossible to digest, as Arevalo (and his team) are careful to avoid any direct shots of the murders that take place.
The Fury of a Patient Man, which was written (and brought to life in a very natural way) by the young director and his friend David Pulido, a psychologist by profession, is a worthy contender for a Goya from the Spanish Film Academy for Best Director of a First Film. In the balance of actors, all of which are perfectly cast, even the ones playing secondary characters (including the extras), in the level of tension that is upheld throughout the film, and finally in the sharp direction, which is well suited to the extremely harsh plot, we see a highly talented director who will probably generate as much buzz as a director as he has done as an actor.
(Translated from Spanish)