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Review: Saturn Return


- Isaki Lacuesta and Pol Rodríguez present a suggestive film inspired by the story of the legendary Spanish band Los Planetas

Review: Saturn Return
Stéphanie Magnin, Cristalino and Daniel Ibáñez in Saturn Return

"This is not a film about the legend of Los Planetas", reads the opening credits of Saturn Return [+see also:
interview: Isaki Lacuesta
film profile
, the new film by Isaki Lacuesta, co-directed with Pol Rodríguez and co-written with Fernando Navarro, starring Daniel Ibáñez, the musician and actor from Granada Cristalino and Stéphanie Magnin, which is now being presented in the Official Section of Malaga Film Festival.

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Inspired by one of the key periods of the popular Spanish band (although it is not exactly a film about Los Planetas), the film tells the story of a moment of crisis for an indie rock band from Granada at the end of the 90s. On the verge of breaking up and after the bass player who had been with them since the very beginning decides to leave, the guitarist is immersed in a spiral of drugs, self-destruction and continuous tensions with the singer. Yet they managed to achieve their dream: to record their third album in New York, an album that would establish them as one of Spain’s great indie rock bands and that would mark the country's music scene forever, Una semana en un motor de un autobús (headed by the song that gives the film its original title, Segundo premio). A title that has been turned into Saturn Return for its international version, because as mentioned in the film, Saturn takes a very long time to go around the sun (approximately 29.5 years), and it’s compared to the long time a rock artist needs to get their career back on track.

As the opening warning suggests, from fiction, the film talks about the life stories of the band members, about everything that lay behind their legend, the complex relationships between them, their agreements and disagreements, their tensions, their wounds, their divides, their unresolved conflicts, their mysteries, their good and bad moments as a group and as friends (perhaps, above all, as the latter), their struggles together, alone and sometimes against each other. The film is also a portrait of an era and a generation, of the 90s Spanish indie scene, with groups like Usura, Penélope Trip, La buena vida and Family, of a way of seeing and experiencing music, of a dream and also of the price of that dream.

Isaki Lacuesta and Pol Rodríguez reflect this whole world of rock and psychedelia with a certain melancholy, beauty and mystery, through a narrative that dares to go beyond the conventional biopic (although it is not really a biopic either). They play with the resources of a more authorial cinema, intimate and at times experimental and dreamlike, with the possibilities of time, light, colour, sound, tone and music. There achieve visually powerful moments and with a suggestive symbolic charge, such as the sequence of New York at night that ends up revealing itself as a beautiful homage to Lorca's Poet in New York.

The way in which the relationship of the three protagonists is narrated, with respect and avoiding sensationalism. It also has a certain magic and sensuality, reconstructing its pieces through time, linking the images and testimonies of a fictitious past and present with a timeless music, where the truth of the story lies (as the character of the bass player says at one point in the film), and without ever defining this bond - friendship, love, sexual or a mixture of all of them - or resolving the reason for their breakup.

Saturn Return is a beautiful and dark journey through the lights and shadows of a generation and musicians who reached many highs and many lows, an emotional film told with mystery and risk about dreams and their flipside.

Saturn Return is a co-production between Spain and France by La Terraza Films, Ikiru Films, Áralan Films, Bteam Prods, Sideral Cinema, Los Ilusos Films and Toxicosmos AIE, is with international sales managed by Latido Films, and is distributed in Spain by Bteam Pictures.

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(Translated from Spanish by Vicky York)

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