The Cannes jury prize-winning third feature from French-Galician film-maker Oliver Laxe (best known for Mimosas) may be his most accomplished yet. After serving two years in prison, a middle-aged arsonist, Amador (Amador Arias), returns to his mountainside village in north-west Spain, where he resumes a serene, if mostly solitary, existence tending cabbages and injured cows with his ageing mother, Benedicta (Benedicta Sánchez). That is, until the land is ravaged by a second fire in the film’s third act. It is unclear whether Amador is the culprit, but that doesn’t matter to the unforgiving locals. Though dialogue is used sparingly, Arias manages to create a sense of deep emotions swirling beneath a tough exterior, thanks to his expressive face and diffident, kind eyes.
Laxe has a masterly command of rhythm and pacing. The action feels unhurried, despite the film’s tight running time, and there is a spaciousness to the world-building; attentive sound design and 16mm photography capture Galicia’s damp, green allure. Falling eucalyptus trees have a gnarled grandeur; wet soil and sparkling ash are treated with awe. This reverence makes it all the more terrifying when destruction, as the title suggests, inevitably rages.
Available to watch on curzonhomecinema.com
Source: The Guardian