LOVING (AMAR) (2017) by Esteban Crespo
“Love as if every day were the last one”
A deep and intense film, feature-film debut of Madrid director Esteban Crespo, who shows in a direct way, without concessions, that first great love in life that generates so many and so many passions inseparably linked to those emotional incongruities that make that all young hearts, that we have all been once, make real crazy for love and for loving.
First incursion in the feature film of its director Esteban Crespo, responsible for one of the most awarded short films in the history of Spanish cinema: “Aquel no era yo (That wasn’t me)” (2012) with more than 94 national and international awards including a nomination to the Oscar for the Best Live Action Short Film and the 2013 Goya Award in the same category.
The story tells the course of that first great passionate love in the adolescence of Carlos (Pol Monen) and Laura (Maria Pedraza), young lovers of 18 and 17 years respectively, that they love each other as if every day was the last, a love that sometimes surpasses them but that totally fills their lives and has become the leitmotif of their existences. Around them we gonna know their closest beings; Merche (a magnificent Natalia Tena) Laura’s mother, Pablo (Gustavo Salmerón) Merche’s couple and Laura’s stepfather, the great Valencian actor Antonio Valero as the father of Carlos and the inseparable friends of Laura; Lola (a fantastic Greta Fernandez), Marta (María Caballero) and Susana (Paz Muñoz), debut on the big screen by the latter two. In this love trip in which the audience becomes a mere voyeur, intentioned with success by the filmmaker, of that young passion of a strong intensity that approaches to the obsessive, will arise the insecurity, the fears, the jealousy and the collide with the reality that is the inexorable step before the maturity. As the character of Natalia Tena says: “What you need is to give you space, Laura is too young to have a boyfriend so seriously and so do you. You still have to live many things”. These words perfectly reflect what maturity and adult common sense know through experience, but that is something totally opposite to that marked intensity of that first true love that is what it wants to show, and brilliantly achieves, this film.
In the technical section you can analyze interesting aspects; the cinematography by Angel Amorós with that effective game of lights, those camera movements following the characters wanting to show a near direct follow-up of the action by the audience part to give a greater “nouvellevaguiano” realism, or those close shots of continuity that bring so much dynamism to the action. Maybe for a few moments can give the impression, personally don’t think so, that the film uses a modern aesthetics like it was a video clip as in the sequence of the party or in some moments of the footage but always this aesthetic justified to tell a story and not the opposite, and that’s consists the cinema…
Also to highlight the very successful choice of the two main musical themes of the film, that “Get free” by the American superband Major Lazer, choosed even in the different promotional trailers and “We might be dead by tomorrow” by Soko, both songs with very significant titles that fit perfectly with the a storyline and the message that transmits the film. As the director, Esteban Crespo, told me, the choice of these two themes was agreed with the leading actress Maria Pedraza, certainly, fit perfectly and are a great choice.
From the cast highlights the performance of the two young leading actors, Pol Monen and María Pedraza, with little experience on the big screen, only Catalan Pol has had secondary roles in films like “Elisa K” (2010) and “Los Niños Salvajes” (2012), both make a fantastic performance that hopefully will be rewarded with a future nomination to the Goya Awards as best new actors, if this happened, would be something well deserved. The role of the young Madrid actress, model and professional classical dancer, María Pedraza, has been highlighted in many different media, but Pol Monen is rise to the challenge in my opinion, both have a great chemistry on the screen and this is not necessary, it’s trivial for make the film works, and the truth is that it works. I already had that feeling to see them interact on the set and it has been confirmed when I have seen the film, brings me to mind that great performance of that mature couple in the fiction played by Francesc Garrido and Nora Navas in “La adopción” by Daniela Fejerman. In addition, stand out with very good performances in two supporting roles, Natalia Tena, Spanish actress of international projection who has participated in the “Harry Potter” saga or in the “Game of Thrones” series, and Greta Fernández, actor Eduard Fernández’s daughter, in the role of the friend of the protagonist. To Greta we predict a bright future as she does very good work in her two previous films, “Embers” (2015) by Claire Carré where she plays in English and the magnificent “La próxima piel” (2016) by Isa Campo and Isaki Lacuesta. Also in short roles but with good vibes appear the young beginners Maria Caballero, Paz Muñoz and Jorge Silvestre, or the veterans already established Antonio Valero, Gustavo Salmerón, Nacho Fresneda, Sonia Almarcha, Juli Mira or Marta Belenguer.
The production of this film have been carried out by the independent production and distributor company Avalon, founded in 2007 by Stefan Schmitz and María Zamora, and by the Valencian production company Filmeu, directed by Cristian Guijarro and Lorena Lluch, who make their debut in the world of the feature films after a successful carreer in the short films, highlighting his latest work “Graffiti” by Lluís Quílez which has won countless national and international awards, including the Forqué Award for Best Fictional Short Film, a Goya nomination and having been on the verge of being finalist in the Oscars. The Generalitat Valenciana via CulturArts, in addition to the ICAA, TVE and Netflix, also have played a significant role in the production.
Almost a year ago, in May 2016, we had the privilege of being invited to the shooting of the film, shot entirely in Valencia, thanks to the courtesy of Avalon and especially its head of press Paula Álvarez. For us it was an enriching experience, since we were able to discover what is a filming shooting from inside, as well as meet and talk with the director, the actors and the rest of the technical team. Experience that hopefully can be repeated in the future because for all the lovers of the seventh art, including me, it’s something very special to be able to live from within the creation of a film.
As a final personal thought that could also be considered as one of the few reservations to this film, it would be the fact that this intense love story that the two protagonists live plays a little with the feeling of the identification of the audience, in other words, that you go back to that first love of the adolescence that we all had and, of course, there will be people who will enter in this kind of emotional flashback and others who will not, and this movie if you don’t enter full in it and feel you identified in a greater or lesser measure with what the story tells you runs a serious risk of end up not liking, and I say that it has not been my case at all. According to the director Esteban Crespo’s own words in the making of the film: “I think we will be satisfied if we can create the feelings in the viewer that he had when he was in love for the first time. If we have succeeded in bringing back to his memory that first love”. I can only say: “target reached”.
Traducido por: Eduardo Llorente.
Our rating: (4/5)