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CANNES 2023 Directors’ Fortnight

Review: Creatura


- CANNES 2023: Elena Martín Gimeno achieves a brave and complex film that explores our relationship with the body, desire and sex

Review: Creatura
Elena Martín Gimeno in Creatura

"Now I know that sex is never just sex, that in sex there is always a mixture of ghosts, egos, affections, vulnerabilities, emptiness, fears," wrote Lucía Baskaran in a passage from her novel Cuerpos malditos. This is what, in her own way, Elena Martín Gimeno tries to portray in images in her new film, Creatura [+see also:
interview: Elena Martín Gimeno
film profile
, presented at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, as part of the Directors’ Fortnight.

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The film, written by the director together with Clara Roquet and starring Oriol Pla and Elena Martín herself, tells of Mila’s sex life. Mila is a thirty-something Catalan woman who has just moved with her partner to live in l'Empordà, the place where she used to spend the summer with her family, surrounded by the sea and nature, its landscapes and sounds. The protagonist feels like she has lost her desire, she wants to sleep with her boyfriend, but when that happens, problems arise. She finds it hard to fuck him, suggests games to make it work, but in the end it all falls apart. There is a will, but she does not know if there is a real desire for the other. She is full of doubts and insecurities, she carries a feeling of guilt and impotence for something that escapes her and that goes beyond all reason. From here, the Catalan filmmaker embarks on a journey delving into Mila's past, into her memories and experiences of childhood and adolescence, to try to get to know and understand the young adult she is today.

Creatura has a certain exploratory quality, resorting to the past to ask about the present self, who I am, what is happening to me and how I have come to be what I am now and I don't quite understand. On this journey, the director has some successes that make her film interesting, complex and brave. From the outset, Elena Martín poses several questions and queries that she never explicitly resolves. She knows how to maintain an offscreen and silences that lucidly express this exploration into the protagonist's intimacy, her revelations and mysteries.

Another of its successes lies in how she tells the story and the questions it raises. Despite certain aesthetics and images that are becoming commonplace among a certain type of more or less independent Spanish cinema, Elena Martín tells with simplicity and naturalness subjects that could be tough (depending on how you look at them) or at least uncomfortable. That's when the film really takes off, when the filmmaker dares to portray instinct and sexual desire as it happens in real life, stripping away fears, frills and morals. And indeed, there are moments that can be uncomfortable, but no less real and ordinary. From this very aspect comes one of the most interesting and bravest points of the film, by putting a mirror in front of us and making us realise that what is most natural in us often makes us violent or uncomfortable.

Although Creatura does not seem to get to the bottom of what it sets out to do, as if it were timidly raising certain questions, without forsaking a personal feel, the film does manage to escape from the story of the self to create a universal story. A story that addresses our relationship with desire and the body. The body as a space of pleasure and pain, of oppression and freedom, about all that is most hidden in it, its link to inheritance, memory and repressed or unsatisfied desire, and that consequently leads us to question ourselves about what sex says about us.

Creatura is produced by the Spanish companies Vilaüt Films, Lastor Media, Avalon P. C. and Elastica Films and the American company S/B Films. International sales are managed by Luxbox.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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