The Invisible Artery: The main thing is to love
by Alfonso Rivera
- The fourth film by Pere Vilà, presented in the official competition section of the 60th Valladolid Film Festival, is a daring and dramatic ensemble piece with the power to profoundly worry and disturb
A woman named Carme (played by Nora Navas: the real face of this festival after having starred in La adopción [+see also:
interview: Daniela Fejerman
film profile], the other Spanish title in competition, and a strong candidate for the Best Actress Award) stands on the landing on the staircase of a huge, white, modern house, which she shares with her husband, Vicenç (Álex Brendemühl), an ambitious politician who has no intention of becoming a father, much against her wishes. Carme remains silent, not saying a single word. The static camera watches her, as do we. Behind her, a window reveals the resplendent greenery of budding nature, but we know that she will not succeed in getting pregnant with that child she so yearns for. The only noise we hear is the murmur of the city in the background and the odd creak coming from the building. She looks around this enormous gilded cage, moves and continually changes her expression. This sequence is a perfect example of the narrative style of The Invisible Artery [+see also:
interview: Pere Vilà
film profile], the fourth feature by Pere Vilà, following Pas a nivell, La lapidation de Saint Étienne [+see also:
film profile] (winner of the Fipresci Prize at the Seminci three years ago) and La fossa: using just a handful of elements, the Girona-born filmmaker manages to convey all the lack of communication, dissatisfaction and ennui with life experienced by one of the four main characters, who are all connected – whether they like it or not – by that artery referred to by the title.
Besides the aforementioned Vicenç, the others comprise the couple made up of Álex Monner and Joana Vilapuig: he is a guy out of work, while the young woman supports her household through prostitution. Vilà gradually reveals their lives – and their thoughts – to us through brief and fragmented sequences where we don’t always see everything that’s going on in a room or corridor: leaving the camera static, one of the characters occasionally stays out of shot, but we can hear them as we observe how their words or actions are affecting whoever is left in front of the lens. This method of narrating, which brings Jaime Rosales to mind, underlines the emptiness, solitude and misery of the people populating this movie, who, as in the films by the Dardenne brothers, are also filmed from behind in shots that really bring out their abandonment and absence. If we had to add a third reference point to this unsettling film – a very loose adaptation of Joaquim Vidal’s novel of the same name – shot over just 14 days in Girona and with no soundtrack to speak of, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos would spring to mind, owing to its rather raw mise-en-scène.
Finally, we must point out that The Invisible Artery is not only one of the most daring and stimulating titles of the Seminci 2015, but also of the whole crop of this year’s Spanish film productions. The thing that makes the title so disturbing is that, like Vilà’s previous films, it does not hold back when it comes to displaying the putrefaction of a host of characters whom it is painful to see ourselves reflected in. This is compounded not only by all of the elements mentioned above, but also by the great work of introversion put in by its quartet of actors who, with their unexpected reactions, are trying to tell us that their characters are somehow wounded, are enduring a profound personal crisis or, quite simply, have forgotten how to love.
(Translated from Spanish)