Series review: La Mesías
- Javier Calvo and Javier Ambrossi are back with an amazing series in which pop-culture elements delicately and perfectly interlock with more transcendental ones
Javier Calvo and Javier Ambrossi are two of Spanish culture’s most eclectic and omnipresent personalities. They are actors, key figures in the world of television and, most importantly, enormously talented filmmakers. They are the people behind two series that are beloved by the general public and highly revered by the critics (Paquita Salas and Veneno [+see also:
series profile]), as well as a successful musical that has been performed on stages for the last decade and which they adapted for the big screen themselves as Holy Camp! [+see also:
interview: Javier Calvo and Javier Amb…
film profile], earning them five Goya nominations, one of which they cashed in on. Now, at the 71st San Sebastián Film Festival, they present their most ambitious project to date, La Mesías [+see also:
series profile], a series that explores myriad topics, using as its starting point the story of a family traumatised by the religious fundamentalism of a mother who has been broken by life.
In this series, split into seven episodes, we initially meet Enric and Irene (played magnificently by Roger Casamajor and Macarena García), two adult siblings whose relationship with each other is non-existent but who share the scars of a traumatic past. Both their lives are shaken to the core when the outlandish music videos posted on YouTube by a group of young, ultra-Catholic sisters go viral. For anyone who knows even a modicum of online Spanish culture, this bunch of siblings will instantly bring to mind a very similar-sounding case. “Los Javis” (the name by which Ambrossi and Calvo are popularly referred to) prefer to talk about other groups of brothers and sisters who have been made to feel isolated by unscrupulous parents, and use these as a source of inspiration. But that is not the point, in any case. The crucial thing here is that the way in which they tell this story of family, abuse, faith, hope and virality is what turns the series into a supremely powerful emotional steamroller.
Through these episodes, we are told a story that spans more than three decades, always centring on the gaze of Enric and Irene, whose childhood we discover through long flashbacks that explain in detail what their upbringing was like, who their mother was and what relationship they have with the eccentric Christian pop group that’s on everyone’s lips.
So much can be said about La Mesías, and it’s all good. The work of the entire cast is spectacular. Ana Rujas, Lola Dueñas and Carmen Machi, who play the mother of the family at different stages of her life, are the stars of numerous memorable moments and are able to act out the darkest of tragedies without neglecting their sense of humour – which is, nevertheless, somewhat scathing and always tinged with pain. The rest of the cast is no less brilliant. It would be unfair to single out any one name over and above the others, so let’s just say that the actors in La Mesías probably represent the most spectacular and best-assembled cast ever seen in a Spanish series.
There are more than enough elements to justify us slapping an “excellent” label on this production: for example, cinematography that offers some unforgettable visual moments, exquisite art direction and wardrobe design, and an impressive soundtrack, including an original score by Raül Refree accompanied by legendary tunes from the history of pop, the outrageous songs that the group Hidrogenesse has composed for Stella Maris (the name of the main Catholic pop group) and a couple of performances entrusted to Spanish pop star Amaia Romero, who also makes a stupendous acting debut in this show.
In short, La Mesías represents the consecration of two filmmakers who had nothing at all to prove but who - just in case they did - have now silenced those who put them down on account of their predilection for the less highly regarded side of pop culture.
(Translated from Spanish)
Photogallery 29/09/2023: San Sebastián 2023 - La Mesías
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