sibility, guilt and growing up are among the several themes tackled by one of the best entries in this year's FSLC roster of Spanish Cinema Now, which draws to a close tomor-
row. THE SHAME (La Vergüenza), written (with the collaboration of Santos Mercero) and directed by David Planell (below), although it is tightly focused on a "family" of four (husband, wife, soon-to-be-perhaps-adopted child and the housekeeper/nanny), its breadth eventually reaches out to include a large por-
tion of society, from public utilities to social services.
That Señor Planell is able to accomplish this within the time frame of a single day makes his movie even more impressive. It seems a "normal" day yet contains almost everything that will decide this family's fate. How the filmmaker connects his people and events is artful and smart, with almost no dependence upon coincidence and everything instead proceeding from character and need. The one symbolic moment of decision and release might seem too much -- were it not for the possibilities remaining for both good and bad to come out of this latest turn of events (including the turn of a faucet).
|The cast of (basically) five -- mom, dad, son, social worker and nanny -- is peopled with actors who seem especially attuned to the needs of this story. As the father, Alberto San Juan (above, right), last seen in SCN two years ago in Under the Stars and Casual Day, is one of Spain's leading men most fearless about emotions and the showing of them. Everything -- from his sudden temper to tears, fears and joy -- is within San Juan's reach. As Mom, Natalia Mateo (above, left) offers an intriguing combination of need, aggression and protection, as she negotiates the Scylla and Charybdis of her husband and the social worker. In the pivotal role of the maid and nanny, Norma Martínez (below, left) is especially strong and effective, never more so than when, at last, she can let her hair down, symbolically and for real. As the troubled youngster, newcomer Brandon Alexander Lastra Cobos (below, right and just above, who will shorten that name soon, no doubt) is very good at remaining a mystery, even as we slowly warm up to the kid.|
The Shame plays once more only: tonight, Saturday, December 19, at 8:30 -- at the Walter Reade Theater.