by Vitor Pinto
In the same Festival where we find a retrospective dedicated to the social evolution of women, we can also find a film about a woman falling to pieces, as part of the sidebar section "Zabaltegui – New Directors" at the San Sebastian Film Festival. For Alex, his first feature film, José Alcala chooses a male name to tell a female tale. And that ambiguous game between the title’s name and the character’s gender is, in fact, the basis for the creation of a complex lead character. Alex is the main focus of a script that chooses to uncover the main elements of the plot without ever making them too explicit, and leaving us, therefore, either free or unsure of our feelings towards it.
At the age of 34, Alex, who sells vegetables at markets, decides to rebuilt an old house in ruins, situated far away from a small town. Karim is only one of the many men of her life, but the only one who seems to matter to her is her 14 year old son. Xavier lives at his father’s and it was only two years ago that her mother established contact with him. Now, Alex is longing to turn the old ruins into a real home and live there with Xavier. It is a desire for tranquillity in the midst of chaos.
Alcala looks upon that home as a symbolic echo of a woman, who is herself in ruins. A woman whose emotional recovery is as difficult as the reconstruction of the old place. In line with the ambiguity of the film’s title, Marie Reynal composes a character full of stereotypical male features: short hair and almost no makeup. Not even the stereotypes of sex and physical violence seem to escape in her performance, even if, once again from a stereotypical point of view, they certainly collide with the vulnerability of a character who will end up leaving us with an impression of confidence.
Produced by Paulo Branco for Gémini Films, which also handles the international sales, the film is due to be released in France on the 16th of October.
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