"Trusting in me was a leap of faith"
by Alfonso Rivera
- VENICE 2016: Madrilenian actor Raúl Arévalo has made a high-flying directorial debut with The Fury of a Patient Man, thanks to the unconditional faith and support of producer Beatriz Bodegas
Raúl Arévalo is one of the most sought-after Spanish actors at the moment, as is obvious from titles such as Gordos [+see also:
interview: Daniel Sánchez Arévalo
Interview with Daniel Sánchez-Arévalo,…
film profile] (winner of the Goya Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2010), I’m So Excited [+see also:
film profile] and Marshland [+see also:
interview: Alberto Rodríguez
film profile]. After spending years yearning to make the leap to the other side of the camera, he has finally achieved his goal at the age of 36, with The Fury of a Patient Man [+see also:
interview: Raúl Arévalo
film profile], thanks to the unwavering support of producer Beatriz Bodegas, of La Canica Films.
Cineuropa: Why did you want to tell such a brutal story?
Raúl Arévalo: Violence has always interested me – it is innate in all human beings, and unfortunately, there are acts of violence every day. We all have it in us, even if it’s repressed. I am staunchly anti-violence; I have never had a fight with anyone in my life, but I can get angry. I tackled the subject through a story that has nothing to do with me personally: when I sketched out the plot eight years ago, my father owned a bar, and I got to know the local atmosphere in a Madrid neighbourhood, overhearing conversations about how people would react to an act of violence, be it rashly or in a level-headed kind of way: what must it be like to be faced with something like that, a fantasy about revenge? I was interested in investigating that.
The Spanish title, Tarde para la ira (lit. ‘(too) late for anger’) has a double meaning…
It was going to be called Agosto (read more), but then a stage play with the same title was performed for the first time, followed by the release of the film starring Meryl Streep, so we had to change it. While thinking about titles that we could use, I read a quotation from the Bible, translated from Hebrew, which explained how only God has the patience to wait for punishment, and that the real flaw in Christians is that they don’t have the patience to wait before punishing the impure and the sinners. And then it has the two meanings of “too late” and “the latter part of the day”. At first, this title scared me a bit because it smacked of Sergio Leone and also sounded like Tarde de perros (the Spanish title for Dog Day Afternoon).
Are you aware that the movie could potentially offend people?
The most difficult thing was to try to follow the journey of the main character and enable the viewer to stay with him, with all the contradictions that entails and could possibly bring about. I didn’t like the idea of morals or cheap dialogue, but instead I wanted to talk about human beings and the things we cannot avoid, like that feeling of revenge, that ingrained, festering anger, hatred and resentment – feelings that we have all had at some point – but without judging.
But you don’t revel in this violence…
I had been hoping to make a film with rather ugly aesthetics: I’m attracted by the atmosphere in those local neighbourhoods and those fields in Castille, where I grew up, which are ugly on the surface. But at the same time, I wanted to try to squeeze something great out of them, like some French and Italian films manage to do. However, I wanted to get away from the spectacle of violence, which I enjoy so much in Tarantino’s films: I wanted it to be a dryer, rawer, grittier and more realistic kind of violence – like life itself.
Was it while you were shooting The Unexpected Life [+see also:
interview: Jorge Torregrossa
film profile] in New York that you clicked professionally with producer Beatriz Bodegas, of La Canica Films?
No, it was during the rehearsals in Madrid, before we jetted off to New York, when I slipped her the screenplay and we got the ball rolling. What Beatriz has done is remarkable: going from strength to strength in a world that is still so chauvinistic. I had always dreamed of directing ever since I was a kid, and although I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do, and how I wanted to do it, for her to support me was a total leap of faith. She trusted in and fought for me, and that was pivotal – that’s why I’m so grateful to her – and at the same time, she gave me absolute freedom. Bea has been my fairy godmother: we also argued about things, but we always agreed on the important stuff. She really had my back and always offered me her support. This film was made thanks to her: any other producer would have refused to stage it. I did call more producers, but it wasn’t easy for them to support me, as a first-time director. They would ask themselves: “What can this guy offer to make me think that the movie will turn out ok?”
Have you been influenced by the directors you have worked with as an actor?
Every single one; I’ve been working non-stop for 13 years, with the best filmmakers and crew members that this country has to offer, and I’ve been like a vampire, sucking each one of them dry. I’ve never studied film, but I used to buy books and ask the DoPs and production designers questions on set.
(Translated from Spanish)