- Spain’s Daniel Sánchez-Arévalo delivers a simple, likeable and heart-warming road movie, homing in on two brothers who struggle to understand one another
Daniel Sánchez Arévalo presented his penultimate film La gran familia española [+see also:
film profile] six years ago. Since that time, he has continued with his creations, putting his name to the novel La isla de Alice (a finalist for the Planeta Prize 2015) and penning the screenplay for Seventeen [+see also:
interview: Daniel Sánchez Arévalo
film profile], a road movie shot in Cantabria and centred around two brothers who aren’t quite as different as they think, and who set off in a camper van in pursuit of a dog called "Oveja" (sheep). Yes, ladies and gentlemen, once again we find ourselves immersed in the peculiar universe of the author of Gordos [+see also:
interview: Daniel Sánchez Arévalo
Interview with Daniel Sánchez-Arévalo,…
film profile] and Cousinhood [+see also:
film profile], where personal relationships, gentle humour and good vibrations all come together (forming a “feel good movie”, as it would be described in other parts of the world) in a story which, despite its apparent simplicity and light-heartedness, actually explores intimate issues which affect a great number of viewers.
Helping the audience to gradually identify with the director’s initially surly characters are the smart, ingenious and natural dialogue he has inserted, the non-famous actors he has cast (the duo composed of Biel Montoro – seen in Black Snow [+see also:
film profile], for example – and Nacho Sánchez, who is making his film debut after various acclaimed performances in the theatre world) and in whose daily miseries and everyday disasters we can all see ourselves, and the simple directorial approach he has adopted, which, though verging on TV filmmaking, is perfectly aligned with the story that is being told and the situations described.
Shored up by effective supporting actors (we encounter Itsaso Arana once again, after her turn in The August Virgin [+see also:
interview: Jonás Trueba
film profile]) and the photographic expertise of Sergi Vilanova (The Laws of Thermodynamics [+see also:
interview: Mateo Gil
film profile]) which captures the humidity, the beauty and the lush greens of northern Spain, the film’s title Seventeen refers to the age of its protagonist, Héctor, a withdrawn, solitary and closed-off young man who only begins to open up to the world when he sets about training a dog in an animal shelter. But when the dog is rehomed, the boy escapes from the juvenile detention centre, determined to track it down at all costs. It’s a moment in which his big brother Ismael - with whom he doesn’t communicate as well as we’d expect - plays a vital role.
Animals, therefore, play a significant role in this film, which expounds the universal right of all living beings to be loved and respected (regardless of their race, species or age) whilst also exploring atypical families, the fear of becoming a father (knowingly or not) and the various, small-scale psychological defects that Daniel Sánchez Arévalo’s film characters always seem to display.
Seventeen is an Atípica Films co-production for Netflix. It will be released in Spanish cinemas on 4 October, courtesy of A Contracorriente Films, before dropping on the online streaming platform on 18 October.
(Translated from Spanish)
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