The Dead Man and Being Happy an ironic, terminal road movie
by Juan Arteaga
- Rebollo divides audience and critics alike as he once again competes for the Golden Shell, three years after winning Best Director for Woman Without Piano.
Spanish director Javier Rebollo's career has been supported by the San Sebastian Film Festival. Three years after winning Best Director for Woman Without Piano [+see also:
interview: Javier Rebollo, director of…
film profile], Rebollo is once again competing at the festival with The Dead Man and Being Happy [+see also:
film profile], an off-the-wall epic anti-road movie about a professional hit man about to die in which irony and the daring use of various formal devices has once again surprised and divided his audience and the critics.
The film was shot across more than 2,000 kilometres of the most unknown and desolate parts of Argentina, and Its screenplay centres on Santos, a Spaniard who has lived practically all of his life in the country as a professional hit man. One day, he realises that he is about to die and decides to flee towards the North on a last errand. In his ironic, peaceful wanderings, he meets a female travel companion who takes him the opposite way, fleeing from death along secondary roads, via empty restaurants, and with great doses of morphine.
The film is either surprising or annoying from its outset because of the offscreen voices of two omniscient narrators, Javier Rebollo himself and Lola Mayo, who co-wrote the film's screenplay along with Salvador Roselli, who has previously written for Lisandro Alonso and Carlos Sorín. This formula announces the scene about to happen, and thus produces a time in which past, present, and future all converge. The film plays tricks on its audience, as what the offscreen voice tells us doesn't always correspond to what is actually happening on screen, which creates a game of suspicion.
Another surprising element are the actors' different acting styles, something that Rebollo decided to respect as "each actor reaches their own truth in different ways: for some, it's via poetry, and for others, it's more visceral". This is why an unusual, rather restrained José Sacristán stands out in a style rather different from that of the rest of filmography.
The Dead Man and Being Happy is to be released in Spain on November 18 and is produced by Luis Miñarro via his company Eddie Saeta along with Lolita Films, TV3, Icónica S.A., TVE, Noodles Production, the Autonomous Government of Castilla-La Mancha, and the Official Credit Institute (ICO).
(Translated from Spanish)
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