Cornerhouse Digital Reporter Liz Henry reviews Terrados
Terrados (Rooftops) is set amidst the current economic downturn and Spain’s employment crisis. The film follows five friends most of whom comprised the entire staff body of a recently closed legal firm. In their mid-thirties they all find themselves unemployed and über qualified. They pass the time of day squatting on open rooftops throughout the city, drinking, doing Tai Chi and taking magic mushrooms. We follow the main character, Leo (played by the film’s director Demian Sabini), as he descends into, not so much depression, but a sad awakening as it dawns on him his relationship with his girlfriend is over and that a change in profession is long overdue.
The utter boredom of joblessness is neatly conveyed here as is the disheartening and demotivating struggle to find employment in an impenetrable jobs market, especially when the one job you are trained to do leaves you cold; a plight suffered globally by many of the unemployed. Despite this, the film features an enticing urban backdrop, sun-drenched terraces and a fiesta atmosphere that seem at first to sit uncomfortably with the subject matter yet ultimately serve to deliver the underlying theme of optimism and new beginnings.
The prevailing message, delivered by the oldest member of the group, Mario, seems to suggest that at the heart of youth suffering and the employment crisis is the fact that the younger generation is inherently flawed and unable to deal with real life, having all had it a little too easy. It goes on to criticise the overhyped value of higher education and academic qualifications and promotes instead the value of practical experience over scholastic learning.
All this education-bashing seemed to me to over-simplify the issue and without trying to sound too defensive, I’m not sure how on board I entirely am with this sentiment. Moreover, the dialogue seemed at times a little flaccid and the characters a little contrived. Nonetheless, its general feeling of optimism was infectious and much welcomed, serving as a reminder that sometimes a regroup and a change of tack is all that is needed for progress to happen.
A bit of down time, it suggests can be good for us all. It profoundly depicts not only the inertia of unemployment but how it feels to lose your direction and it aptly dedicates itself to ‘those in their life who at some point didn’t know who they were’. Whilst in many ways a stark portrayal of life in a recession and a reminder that we are all utterly fallible, this is a feel good ¡Viva! film.
Terrados screens tomorrow Tue 6 March as part of ¡Viva! our Spanish & Latin American Film Festival. Book your tickets here.