by Júlia Olmo
- The Burnin' Percebes achieve one of the great virtues of fiction, making a story believable and enjoyable beyond its real-life possibility
The best way to discover the films of Burnin' Percebes, the duo of filmmakers Fernando Martínez and Juan González, is to approach their film untouched and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Their first two films (Searching for Meritxell and Ikea 2) are worth devouring in one sitting, as they are quite different from what we are used to seeing. They stand out for their boldness and freedom, their lack of pretentiousness, their lightness, their separation from a certain academic formalism that is quite common in part of Spanish cinema. But above all, their ability to make us laugh, without boring us, which makes us want to keep watching even more.
It has been a few years since their last film. Now, the Burnin' Percebes have presented their fourth film Golem [+see also:
film profile], starring Brays Efe and Bruna Cusí, in the official section of the Malaga Film Festival. Their latest film follows in the footsteps of their previous film, The Queen of the Lizards [+see also:
film profile], a film that was able to turn the typical love story on its head by playing with humour and science fiction. It is noticeable that in both films the filmmakers have had a larger budget compared to when they first started. But, in my opinion, it is still a cinema far from the mainstream. Made from the freest imagination, in other words, the one that doesn’t accept any limits, from where they make up their own rules to the game, from where they dare to play with fantasy and reality, the most absurd and the most bestial and black humour, the mixture of the dark and the light, to try to reach unexpected places, to please and to displease.
With their characteristic boldness and personality, in Golem the Burnin' Percebes tell the story of Juan, an apparently simple young man who loses his best friend in a rather strange way: he breaks into a thousand pieces after falling down a terrace drunk and crashing into the bonnet of a car. As nobody seems surprised by this, Juan decides to investigate the case on his own, finding himself immersed in a labyrinth of nonsense and pianos falling from the sky. As you can tell from the synopsis, the story is nonsense in itself. This is precisely one of the film's great virtues. Its ability to invent and achieve its own rules of credibility, to integrate the fictional into the real, to make the impossible seem possible. The film is full of hilarious moments, surreal situations that become believable, dramatic events that end up being comical, but this constant recourse to humour and the extraordinary is neither excessive nor repetitive. The filmmakers know how to artfully maintain the tone they are aiming for.
Lately, the taste for fiction as a storytelling medium seems to be fading. The subject matter and its supposed importance or necessity comes first, the story and the form come second. In doing so, a certain sense of humour is also lost. I therefore welcome the existence of films like Golem. With imagination and humour, its creators tell a story in a personal way, and from there, they achieve one of the best things in fiction. They make this story believable and enjoyable beyond its possibility in real life.
Golem is a production by the companies Aquí y Allí Films and Sideral, which will be released by Elamedia in Spain on 16 June.
(Translated from Spanish by Vicky York)
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