Kike Maíllo • Director
“A colourful noir can turn out to be really interesting”
by Alfonso Rivera
- Kike Maíllo is opening the official section of the 19th Málaga Spanish Film Festival with Toro, his new thriller, screening out of competition
Toplined by three bankable stars – namely, Luis Tosar, Mario Casas and José Sacristán – Toro [+see also:
interview: Kike Maíllo
film profile] was shot on sets on the Andalusian coast, and tells a story of violence, corruption and family ties.
Cineuropa: With Toro, did you intend to make a film that was different to your usual work, both aesthetically and narratively speaking?
Kike Maíllo: The movie gradually took on its own personality as we progressed with it. There was a decisive moment, somewhere between the second and third versions of the screenplay, when we turned it around completely so that the film would take root, be imbued with something of the south and take on a bit of an Andalusian character… But it was vital that it didn’t lose its particular “pulp” fiction character, with that idiosyncratic charisma exuded by the characters, as if they were sketches: I didn’t want to lose that in favour of costumbrismo (an interpretation of local Hispanic everyday life, mannerisms and customs). I liked the fact that the Hispanic aspects were strongly present, almost in a semiotic way, but also that it wasn’t a coarse movie owing to its focus on the world of organised crime.
Surely people have brought up Only God Forgives [+see also:
interview: Nicolas Winding Refn
film profile] when they’ve talked to you, because of your film’s use of colours…
That’s got something to do with post-modernism. There is indeed a very saturated colour palette in Nicolas Winding Refn’s movie, and in this way it manages to take on sort of an international appearance: it takes place in the Orient, but it could be nowhere in particular. It’s something that we carry with us in a very natural way: the savageness of geometry can be explained through colour, order and saturation. It’s about flipping the genre on its head: a colourful noir can turn out to be really interesting.
After already doing so in Eva [+see also:
film profile], you once again tackle that peculiar relationship between a teenager and an adult.
There’s something of my own experience in that: I’m interested in teaching, how the relationships work when they’re not your own biological children, how someone inherits your character, nature or knowledge. I have had students for 16 years, and it’s something you notice, I suppose…
You have also used religious imagery, in contrast with the high-tech world…
You’ve got a traditional Europe coexisting with an ultra-modern one. Religion also explains to us how José Sacristán’s character grew up and how they see him now, much like a pater familias, someone who is important for the neighbourhood: it’s a way of explaining how that imitation of growth works. I don’t think Romano, his character, is a person who is a particularly strong nor devout believer: he’s just in love with the liturgy and imagery of religion.
In terms of shooting all the violence and action scenes, was this an added difficulty, and did it mean stepping out of your comfort zone?
I like stepping out of my comfort zone: the next movie I make will be a musical, because I love shooting things that I’ve enjoyed seeing at the cinema. Some of the most exciting moments in Toro were the blows, the cars and the races: you break down the sequence, study it, build it in 3D… and thus it becomes more technical. In the end, it’s more complicated to achieve a look, a sparkle or a reaction at a climactic moment, which explains the film. It’s all about that magic that is only created with the actors and that you can’t bring ready-prepared from home: if it’s not there, you’ve not got it. Those are always the most complicated scenes.
(Translated from Spanish)
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