Alcarràs – the Berlinale Golden Bear winner (review)
The Solé family lives at a small village in Catalonia. They own a peach field and a house. Or so we think, as the owner demands their eviction, and the grandfather of the family never had a contract of the passing of the land. The new plans for the land, which include cutting down the peach trees and installing solar panels, cause a rift in this large family, that evert summer from when they remember themselves peek peaches. For the first time, they face an uncertain future and risk losing more than their orchard.
After her beautiful debut Summer 1993, Carla Simón draws again on her experience of rural life in the Catalan countryside, where human activity is part of a cycle governed by seasons in a capricious climate. Three different generations in the family experience the restful summer under the pressure of eviction, peeking peaches, eating all together, attending festivals, playing, dancing, planting.
Common ground for all of the members is the attachment to their property and the work on it. The grandpa is experiencing the whole event silently, without replying on the accusations of not signing a contract, but he suffers the most, reminding us the similar character of the “El Olivo”. The father at the same point is in denial, for him the most important is to pick the peaches and have a nice year of production as usual. At the same time, the producers of the region go on demonstrations because of the low prices of their product. The older kids are experiencing a coming of age summer in this rural setting, while the younger ones play on abandoned cars or small fortresses enjoying some sweet and well-shot scenes. They are only bummed when the adults are shouting or take their conflicts on them.
The huge family and its dynamics are impossible to depict in the two hours of the runtime of the film. Some characters, like the mother of the kids or the siblings of the main couple, feel underdeveloped, while we spend lot of time with others. For example, the teenage kids and their parties or dances are all enjoying more screen time than their mum, while they are not involved, because of their age, on the decisions that have to be made. Although this approach intensifies the feeling that the family is heading to a inevitable bitter end, as noone really pays attention on what is coming, it certainly undermines the house and land conflict as the main point of plot.
Nevertheless, Alcarràs is a solid country family drama, that I cannot claim that didn’t deserve the Golden Bear of the Berlinale, even though it was not among my favorite films of the Festival.
by Carla Simón
with Jordi Pujol Dolcet, Anna Otin, Xènia Roset, Albert Bosch, Ainet Jounou
Country: Spain / Italy Year: 2022