Berserker: Curiosity let down
by Alfonso Rivera
- An ironic title for a strange thriller directed by Pablo Hernando, with a surprising and risky twist in the middle of the plot
Berserker, as Pablo Hernando (Vitoria, 1986) himself affirmed at the presentation of his second feature-length film in the New Waves and Resistances sections – the most radical, iconoclastic and challenging of the 12th Seville European Film Festival – is a Viking warrior, brave and savage, who drugs himself before battle, and nothing can make him back out. Hugo Vartan is the complete opposite, the protagonist in this atypical film noir (played by Julián Génisson), an author looking for a juicy story for his next book. He comes across one in the form of the sister of his flatmate's boyfriend (Ingrid García Jonsson, the real revelation of Beautiful Youth [+see also:
interview: Jaime Rosales
film profile]), who has been hospitalised in a psychiatric ward for, seemingly, murdering her partner, beheading him with a knife and sticking his head on the steering wheel of her car.
Starting off like that, in pure David Lynch style, piques the interest of not only Hugo, but everyone watching the film. Like that, as the protagonist starts to investigate, we attentively follow his enquiries and questioning of people close to the beheaded victim and his possible executioner. Hernando proceeds to envelope us in a trance, set against a bleak Madrid backdrop, far from what is seen on postcards, in an estranged atmosphere while we laugh about far-fetched situations with the ironic mood that comes across, above all, from the dialogue between the two main characters, who are going through a three-fold crisis: economic, creative and of life itself.
Berserker [+see also:
interview: Pablo Hernando
film profile] touches on these themes until a major twist, as realistic as it is unexpected, breaks with the cliché of the unstoppable investigator, and as a result, we run up against a situation where our own curiosity, that driving force that has kept us on edge, is completely let down. Hernando runs the enormous risk of provoking such a "coitus interruptus", throwing overboard what he had been building up over the first hour. But this is exactly what he is interested in: the feeling of accepting that not everything has a solution, and he dramatically takes advantage of this frustration to create another narrative message. Thus, the film depicts an antihero, a regular guy like any one of us, humble citizens, who is not up to the challenge placed in front of him. A cursed loser.
While in Cabás, his first firm, Hernando rendered homage to Arrebato, by Iván Zulueta, and to Diamond Flash, by his mentor Carlos Vermut, in Berserker, as he has recognised, he drew inspiration from Jurassic Park – “My favourite film of all time,” he admitted here in Seville – and from David Fincher: in Zodiac the investigation is similarly not satisfyingly resolved.
Hernando is interested in unsettling, something that he is also set to do in the section that he is making in Esa sensación [+see also:
interview: Juan Cavestany
film profile] (read more), a film that he has shot together with Juan Cavestany, and again with Julián Génisson: in his section, a woman falls in love with urban objects – a roundabout, a parking meter and a bridge – everything told without dialogues, only with images and sound. It seems that, just like a berserker, this filmmaker knows no fear.
(Translated from Spanish)