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In November we bring you the final instalment of the 21st ¡Viva! Spanish and Latin American Film Festival: The Weekenders, with an excellent line-up of five great films from Spain. Here, India Morgan reviews Tots volem el millor per a ella, which follows Nora Navas’ Geni as she recovers from a serious car accident.
Tots volem el millor per a ella, the second feature film from Catalan director Mar Coll, illustrates the personal crisis and transformation of Geni (Nora Navas) a woman struggling to regain her daily routine after suffering an accident that has marked her physically and emotionally. At the heart of this story is a yearning to escape, a motif that seeps into the director’s careful framing and emotive use of colour and sound.
Geni is framed looking out of a window at the world below that promises freedom, she has become a prisoner in her own life, trapped by external expectations for her to hurry up and return to normal. Coll ensures we have no ‘previous Geni’ as a point of comparison since we are introduced to her post-accident. Like Geni, we are just as bewildered by comments made by her family about the hardworking, eloquent lawyer she was once, because these attributes are incongruous with the woman we see. Helped by a strong cast, co-writer and director Coll once again masters style and script to convey familial tensions with ease and subtlety, as she was previously lauded for in her debut film Tres dias con la famili.
Close-up camera angles intensify the sense of entrapment and we empathise with Geni’s mounting desperation to run away from it all. Tension builds as we watch Geni become more erratic and the suspense is heightened by outbursts of classical violin and jazz from Maik Maier’s original score. Navas well deserved her Goya nomination for Best Actress in the role of this elusive and distracted character. Also commendable is Pau Dura’s performance as husband Dani, who is incapable of listening to the genuine needs of his wife and suffocates and patronises her even in through his unfaltering care.
Worthy of a mention is the use of colour to develop characters and plot. The filmmaker shrouds her bruised and melancholic protagonist in blues and purples, juxtaposed with the bright rebellious reds worn by Mariana, later adopted by Geni as she reclaims her independence. Indeed, Coll’s aesthetic attention can be likened to that seen in Kieslowski’s French production Trois couleurs: Bleu that similarly depicts a woman’s existential suffering and search for emotional freedom.
The film studies some of the more sombre human feelings: loneliness, confusion, alienation, depression; and yet responds with a playful exploration of our means to escape, both literal and imaginative. In a frantic attempt to get away, Geni lies, plays childlike games of make-believe, and fixates on her bohemian friend Mariana. Geni’s efforts may appear extreme to some, but her craving to rid herself of oppressive expectations is something many of us will understand. Geni shows us how feelings of detachment and confinement can invigorate us to change, to find reinvention and liberation.
Tots volem el millor per a ella screens on Sun 8 Nov. Click here to find out more and buy tickets.