Film Comment - 05/01/2003
"...The face and demeanor of Bardem emerges as the bulwark. His performance -- he seems to making a career of this -- can transcend the oppression of history with an assuredly relaxed slouch..."
USA Today - 07/25/2003
"...A remarkable film....The best thing about this bittersweet story is how simply and delicately its scenes are presented..."
Entertainment Weekly - 08/15/2003
"...[The film] pulses with the star power of the extraordinary Javier Bardem..."
Uncut - 06/01/2005
"[S]o deft at spotting moments of hope, humour and defiance among these declining characters that, far from being just a wallow in despair, it's also lean and uplifting."
Sight and Sound - 06/01/2005
"[T]he film dishes out gallows humour alongside its mournful recital of despair."
A northern Spanish coastal town suffers from its own isolationism as shipyards close down, leaving the labor force scouring the streets for temp jobs with only their stubborn pride to show for it. Among the disillusioned is Santa (Javier Bardem), a cocksure, angry rebel who refuses to admit his own failures. Santa is the ring leader of a group of rapidly aging friends whose unemployed status causes them mounting grief. They drown their sorrows in an otherwise empty bar owned by Rico (Joaquin Climent), one of their coworkers from what now seems another life. While Santa tries to clumsily seduce women and pay for a lamp post he vandalized in anger, his companions battle serious alcoholism, loan denials, and marriage troubles, as they all face their own insignificance.
Javier Bardem perfectly embodies the defiant loser that is Santa. Letting himself go and carrying a hefty gut, Bardem manages to exude the false charm of a bitter sad sack who has remained a lady's man. Captured in gritty detail, director Fernando Leon de Aranoa offers a shattered image of the proud work force of northern Spain in a picture that won five Goya Awards, Spain's equivalent to the Oscars.
Small Town Life |
Small Towns |