Flowers: a bouquet by the roadside
by Alfonso Rivera
- Jose Mari Goenaga and Jon Garaño are releasing a touching, beautiful and heartfelt movie about pain, absence and lack of communication, starring three brilliant actresses
A considerable number of the accredited journalists at the latest San Sebastián Film Festival were critical of the fact that Flowers [+see also:
film profile], the second film by José Mari Goenaga and Jon Garaño, did not feature in the gathering’s list of award winners. During the press conference that took place for its presentation, there was also a call for one of its lead actresses, Itziar Aizpuru, to be nominated for the next Goya Awards; here she joins forces with Nagore Aramburu and Itziar Ituño as they play a trio of suffering women in this movie filmed entirely in the Basque language.
But before dealing further with this film, let us look back at the previous work by the two directors, For 80 Days [+see also:
film profile] (2010), which also starred Aizpuru, in which they portrayed – in an extremely natural, sensitive and committed fashion − a lesbian relationship between mature (Basque) women. It was a real achievement, a glorious surprise, which it was only possible to enjoy at festivals and in theatres owned by small/arthouse cinema chains. For their second effort together, Goenaga and Garaño benefitted from a bigger budget, a talented crew and the support of a world-class festival that has served as a useful springboard enabling them to go on showing it off at other gatherings such as Tokyo, Zurich and London.
Now it has reached Spanish theatres and will succeed in making its mark on any viewer who takes an interest in thinking deeply about it – just as Beñat, the lead male character (Josean Bengoetxea), makes his mark on the three women in his life. One of them is his mother, who is very much devoted to tradition; the other is a work colleague; while the third is his wife. They portray a small group of women who are suffering because of their dissatisfaction, routine and lack of communication. An unexpected bunch of flowers will raise questions about their comfortable lives, which are nevertheless lacking in excitement.
Flowers brings to mind a song by Cecilia, Un ramito de violetas (“A Bouquet of Violets”), but the screenplay, written by the directors together with Aitor Arregi, ventures much further. It also makes us shudder, just like when we are out driving and see a bunch of flowers tied to a traffic sign next to a sharp bend, warning us of the dangers of travelling along that stretch of road. Just as it does to the song mentioned above, mystery enshrouds this movie, which boasts some powerful cinematography (courtesy of Javier Agirre), and the pain caused by absence – which is evoked by those flowers by the roadside – pervades the atmosphere that is created by that sense of mystery, thanks to an elegant mise en scène.
The crossed paths of Tere, Ane and Lourdes wend their way through their respective personal tragedies at a similar pace to a film by Kieslowski, allowing their movements and silences to encourage us to get to know them, to love them and to identify with their deepest unhappiness. All this is done without any overemphasis, tweeness or elaborate flourishes, but rather with just the right amount of sensitivity for us to get goose bumps as we gaze in awe at the three actresses, who are entirely believable as victims of their own lives, in which a bunch of flowers says much more than their few words ever could.
Flowers is an Irusoin and Moriarti Produkzioak production that benefitted from the support of TVE, ETB and Euskaltel, as well as backing from the ICAA and the Basque Government. Distribution in Spain is handled by A Contracorriente Films, while Film Factory Entertainment takes care of international sales.
(Translated from Spanish)