Cornerhouse Digital Reporter Bex Brophy reviews Open 24H
Written and directed by Carles Torres, Open 24H follows the day-to-day routine of Hector Garcia. Note the use of the word routine as opposed to life.
A night-time security guard in a Barcelona scrap metal yard, played by Amadis de Murga, Hector has little contact with the outside world. The film follows as he depressingly exists between long, solitary shifts at work and a grim home life. Shot in monochrome, the film is stunningly bleak.
Living with his callous father (Jose Maria Blanco) and mentally disabled brother (Ruben Jimenez), coldly referred to as ‘Father’ and ‘Little Brother’, Hector escapes reality by listening to radio programs about the universe and reading books by Eric von Daniken. The first book we see Hector read is ‘The Message From The Gods’ which combined with his interest in astrology, seems to reflect his strong feeling of insignificance and desire to find something meaningful in his life.
Constantly battling with his father over the care of his brother, Hector meets regularly with a nameless social worker to discuss the future of their family. Sadly, the relationship between Hector and his social worker seems to be the most intimate he has, the only other people he meets with being a lawyer, a doctor, and a girl who works at the Open 24H petrol station. All the characters are nameless, possibly to accentuate Hector’s inability to develop relationships.
The presence of authority figures in this film, the lack of dialogue, the depressing cinematography and the industrial, groaning soundtrack, all contribute to the massive feeling of alienation felt by the protagonist. The entire work, whilst slow, expresses the mundane nature of Hector’s life and the lack of control he struggles with, thus creating an air of empathy when he eventually spirals towards a shocking act of violence.
Open 24H screens tonight, Friday 9 March with a post-screening Q&A with the director Carles Torres. Book your tickets here.