The Long Way Home: a distressing Gordian knot
by Alfonso Rivera
- Sergi Pérez competes in Seville by boldly showing 24 hours of the life of a man immersed in a quasi animal state of rage and pain
Joel (Borja Espinosa) wakes up with his bedclothes all tumbled. He calls Elvis, his dog, but it doesn't come. He looks for it around the house and finds it motionless, on the verge of death. He calls for help, picks up the huge animal and goes out into the street in search of a solution... perhaps not just for his pet. That's where his erratic and visceral wandering begins. He's furious and tense as he wanders about a faded Barcelona where he will have chance encounters in his desire to return home, to take refuge. This is the crytpic and symbolist plot of The Long Way Home [+see also:
interview: Sergi Pérez
film profile], Sergi Pérez's debut film and the only Spanish title competing in the Official Section of the 11th Seville European Film Festival.
His camera, like in a Dardenne brothers movie, will stick – except in some isolated scenes that lighten the overall oppressive tone, filmed from a distance or through windows – to the back of Joel's neck, even if so much proximity to such a melancholy – and at times disagreeable- character will cause the viewer to feel uncomfortable and repulse them, as his actions are not courageous or ethical, and by no means rational. But, even so, we will gradually learn that this guy scrapes by in a traumatic, irascible and highly conflictual state: something happened to his partner and he, weighed down by this animal that represents many things, has not yet accepted that loss.
Filmed in three distinct stages, based on the financing that was collected over a period of time, The Long Way Home was created off the cuff: following the first days of filming, the director revised what had been shot so as to continue smoothin the edges of a script barely 40 pages long (written together with Eric Navarro and Roger Padilla) which, as this 38 year old filmmaker and Bergman devotee claims and his frames confirm, came from inside him, from his stomach, from his dark side.
So a total of just 16 days filming to complete this movie about an injured man who's trying to climb out of his black hole by wandering around, abusing others and himself, in search of strong stimuli, bordering on insanity and wanting to return to the cave where he believes he's safe from an inescapable and devastating reality. However, those shady, depressing and absurd deeds will help him to gradually undo the Gordian knot that imprisons him in a downward spiral.
From our theatre seats we'll bear witness to that whole painful process, to an intimacy so raw that it's not always pleasant to watch: thus at times we'll want to hug the protagonist and at others, on the contrary, tell him to go to hell. That's what's brought about by this film produced by the NIU D´INDI collective, far removed from the colourful pop of the shortfilm New Dress with which Sergi Pérez tackled – with the same courage that he now shows with the theme of mourning - the issue of child transexuality. With The Long Way Home he confirms that his strength is still that of coping with auteur challenges, and no better place than to do it in this square for the 11th Seville European Film Festival.
(Translated from Spanish)