Review: Sueños y pan
by Júlia Olmo
- Spaniard Luis (Soto) Muñoz pays tribute to cine quinqui with a thrilling feature debut about friendship on the fringes of society and the insecurity of an entire generation
“This film, shot between January 2020 and July 2021, was made possible thanks to the help of a group of friends, who made it in their spare time, fitting it in amongst other jobs and activities,” says a child’s voice at the start of Sueños y pan, the feature debut by Luis (Soto) Muñoz, which has been screened in the Andalusian Panorama section of the Seville Film Festival, after being premiered at the Atlàntida Mallorca Film Festival, where it went home with the Award for Best Film in the Official National Section. Shortly afterwards, we see the following quotation by Cesare Pavese: “Living in a given environment is nice when the soul is elsewhere. In the city when you dream of the countryside; in the country when you dream of the city. Everywhere when one dreams of the sea.”
Paying tribute to cine quinqui, or so-called Spanish “delinquency cinema” from the 1970s and 1980s, the film tells the story of Javi and Dani (Javier de Luis and George Steane), two young tearaways from the outskirts of Madrid who are attempting to sell a painting they have just stolen. When they suspect it might be worth a fortune, they both criss-cross the city and make forcible attempts to sell it to buyers ranging from people in the suburbs to the most highly respected art galleries. But things get more complicated when, just as their plan starts unravelling with every step they take, their friend and flatmate Sara (Cristina Masoni), a heroin addict, goes into a detoxification centre and loses custody of her son Carlitos who, despite everything, still retains his innocence. Using this storyline as its starting point, the movie talks about the misfortunes of aimless youths, about their tendency to drift off course, about poverty, uncertainty and the despair of a whole generation, about lower-class and working-class people trapped in big cities like Madrid, where, if you’re not rich, a landlord or earning a massive salary, you’re condemned to live (or rather survive) in a state of insecurity.
However, despite its bitter outward appearance, the film avoids wallowing in this sadness; starting there, from that feeling of loss and unease, it also expounds on friendship, on friends as the very epicentre of mutual support and care, on the possibility of forming a family, on the love that can be found within it, and on its meaning and importance. Therein lies one of the feature’s secret weapons: its ability to be a devastatingly sad and, at the same time, beautiful film, which conveys this bitterness with subtlety and humour. Another of its strengths is its imaginative and free-spirited form of narration (which demonstrates the modesty, lack of pretentiousness and creative freedom that its creators worked with), and the human, non-patronising gaze through which it depicts its protagonists. Indeed, it shows them exactly as they are – lower-class people weighed down by poverty – but without turning this poverty into a virtue, showing both its good and bad sides. In addition to this, some of the best things about the film are the moving moments full of tenderness (especially the sequences where the whole central family comes together) or sheer entertainment (like the museum scene).
Sueños y pan is a moving homage to cine quinqui, a bitter but simultaneously beautiful film about friendship on the fringes of society and the insecurity of an entire generation – but above all, it’s a movie with a soul, which is enjoyable and so much damned fun, and it manages to constitute social cinema without falling into the trap of condescension or schmaltz.
Sueños y pan was produced by Mubox Studio.
(Translated from Spanish)
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