Review: Brief Story from the Green Planet
by Ola Salwa
- BERLIN 2019: Santiago Loza presents his new, crazy but somewhat loveable film in the Panorama section – but it might have been a better fit in the Shorts programme
You would be forgiven for thinking that the title Brief Story from the Green Planet [+see also:
film profile] suggests that Santiago Loza – who is returning to the Berlinale Panorama after presenting La Paz in the Forum in 2013 and Malambo, the Good Man in Panorama in 2018 – has made an environmentally themed film. But actually, said title is a little inaccurate, if not misleading. The protagonists of the film are “a bit odd”: they are a humankind of their own, which makes them stronger and more vulnerable at the same time.
Tania, Daniela and Pedro have been friends since childhood; they were bullied by other kids, but that experience helped them to form a strong and lasting bond. They are an undefeated trio that continues to brave life’s challenges several years later. When Tania’s grandmother dies, the gang heads to their hometown to pay their respects, face the narrow-minded locals and uncover the secret of the late old lady. It’s not a love affair kept under wraps for years, or a long-lost relative: it’s a creature from another world, quite literally. And so the “human aliens” add the actual alien (who mostly seems to lie in some sort of coma, like Sleeping Beauty) to their group and continue their journey together.
Despite the plot unfolding organically – at least in the first half of the film – and its undeniably loveable characters, Brief Story from the Green Planet gives you the impression of being an overly stretched-out short film. The idea works really well, no matter how strange the ET part may sound, and there is no hint of cheap, DIY science-fiction. However, in the second part of the movie, the speedy tempo grinds to a halt, and the excessively long scenes suggest that the makers had no concept of how to progress with the story or the characters. Some melodrama creeps in, too.
Apart from the curious extraterrestrial, the most eye-catching and intriguing character is Tania (played by Romina Escobar), who quite frankly deserves a film all of her own – in this life or the next, as a certain Roman gladiator would say.
Brief Story from the Green Planet is a joint effort between Argentina, Germany, Brazil and Spain. Constanza Sanz Palacios produced the film with her Buenos Aires-based outfit Constanza Sanz Palacios Films. Paulo de Carvalho, Gudula Meinzolt, Luana Melgaço, David Matamoros and Angeles Hernandez all have a co-producer credit, while the co-production companies are Anavilhana Filmes (Brazil), Zentropa International Spain and Autentika Films (Germany).
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