Paco Plaza • Director of Eye for an Eye
"I desperately needed to make this film"
- Paco Plaza’s Eye for an Eye, a hard-hitting revenge flick and existential thriller that is guaranteed to leave you rattled, starring Luis Tosar and shot in Galicia, is on general release now in Spain
Valencian filmmaker Paco Plaza chatted to us to unpick his new solo feature after shooting to international fame with the REC horror saga (two instalments of which he co-directed with Jaume Balagueró, while he was the helmer of the best chapter, the third, [REC]3 Genesis [+see also:
film profile]) and the success of his last film, Verónica [+see also:
interview: Paco Plaza
film profile]. Now he is stepping outside of his comfort zone, the horror genre, to give a nihilistic twist to the thriller with Eye for an Eye [+see also:
interview: Paco Plaza
film profile], a crushingly powerful and brutal film, filmed in Galicia and starring the region’s most famous film star, Luis Tosar.
Cineuropa: How did Eye for an Eye end up in your capable hands?
Paco Plaza: It was a project that I’d said no to several times because other films kept falling into my lap; but ever since I read the screenplay years ago, I couldn’t get it out of my head. It’s the first film of mine that is not one of my own personal projects, but I desperately needed to make it. When I read the plot, I thought it was so good that I felt the need to make it because it talks about right and wrong decisions, and about the power of destiny, which is what the group Mecano sang about. Emma Lustres, of Vaca Films, offered me the project quite a while ago, as she had a lot of faith in it: she originally had the vision of me making this film, which is something I will be eternally grateful to her for. The fact is that I had never read a script by someone else and felt that pressing need to shoot it and that desire to tell the story contained within. And I thought that the character played by Luis Tosar had an unusual arc, as he had that quality of being both charming and an absolute bastard. Because of all these reasons, I thought this project would be a huge challenge.
Was the screenplay already finished when you got it?
The core of the story was so powerful that it worked amazingly. Then, Jorge Guerricaechevarría came on board to write some subsequent versions, to work with me on fine-tuning a few things and making it more to my liking – but the first version by Juan Galiñanes was already thrilling, with a shocking finale. I believe that cinema feeds us unique images and feelings. I’m extremely motivated by the quest to find images that the viewer will remember: I call them forceful images. In this case, it’s the final image and another one with two crucial events happening, edited in parallel. These two extremely powerful images are what made me decide to shoot Eye for an Eye, because there’s something intrinsically cinematic about those two moments.
What was the research process like, as well as familiarising yourself with the world the movie portrays?
I went to the area itself, to Rías Baixas, and I got in touch with people who had links to it, both with the Civil Guard, which is dedicated to carrying out anti-drugs operations, and with people from the profession, but I didn’t want to fall into the trap of using any cinematic clichés. I wanted to see what that world was really like, and that’s how it remained in the movie: with seafood processing plants, people in seedy bars, the region’s towns and villages... My primary concern was to steer clear of any type of epic genre or glamorisation of the drug traffickers, because they’re just normal people who have a courier business – but the thing they transport is cocaine. I had the option of stylising things, but I thought that would mean betraying both the characters and the story.
Everyone in Spain and South America knows that Julio Iglesias song that we hear in Eye for an Eye by heart.
It’s like rummaging around in the viewer’s subconscious. It creates a kind of complicity with the audience, similar to a sense of belonging. I think that’s why I like using Spanish pop music in my movies so much, because I’m telling a story that concerns us all: the collective memory we have as people who share a culture and a generation.
We get carried away by the film’s sound design as well, which is something you also achieved in Verónica…
The sound is 50% of the film, and in this case, just like in [REC]3. Genesis and Verónica, I was able to work with Gabriel Gutiérrez, who is a true artist and understands that the image enters the viewer through his eyes, but the sound seeps in somewhere beyond the brain. The sound recounts things in a much more subtle way, penetrating the viewer’s mind: the sound illustrates what is on the screen, and it has this incredible evocative power. In this movie, the sound is the inner noise of the main character: what we hear as we watch the film is not what you are seeing as a viewer, but rather Mario’s perception of reality. The border between the sound and the music in this film is very blurry.
(Translated from Spanish)
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