Wednesday 17 April 2019

Spanish Film Festival - Barrie Pattison jumps on board THE REALM (Rodrigo Sorogoyen)

The new El reino/The Realm  comes from the team of director Rodrigo Sorogoyen and star Antonio de la Torre who have already turned out the excellent thriller Que Dios nos perdone/May God Save Us. 

I don’t like the current film as much as its predecessor, mainly because it is rooted in a fictionalised political scandal which is supposed to rouse our indignation but never convinces us that it’s anything more that the writers’ imaginings - which is not to say such chicanery doesn’t exist.

El Reino begins with de la Torre in a steadicam traveling from a peaceful beach into an up-market restaurant where the politicians are having a party - much good fellowship and expression of confidence. We learn that one of their large scale scandals may have come to light. As the film progresses, one by one the characters confront de la Torre, who is on screen most of the two hour plus running time, trying to protect their own tails or the collective tail of their in power political party.

De la Torre moves from being their fixer to someone who is prepared to tear the whole thing down, through charged conversations, power boat parties, meetings where there isn’t a chair for him to sit at the table and Police with a warrant who spot the computer stick he tries to hide in his shoe. Associates find the voice recorder he has used with an angry fellow conspirator who is afraid of voice recorders. 

Antonio de la Torre, The Realm
De la Torre’s marriage breaks up, involving him making off with the family fortune, partly belonging to his teenage daughter, to finance a quest for incriminating material that he finally (at this stage interest is picking up) has to burgle in person from a pot party a colleague’s under age daughter is throwing at home. De La Torre’s support dwindles to one elderly lawyer friend and there’s some menacing high speed highway action in the dark and a live-on-air confrontation with newslady Bárbara Lennie who he dismisses as the instrument of her network employers but, pulling out her control room ear piece, proves able to give as good as she gets.

The wide screen, wide angle filming is super pro, even with the couple of short washed out sequences and the cast from the always admirable De La Torre downwards are top flight performers grabbing opportunities they usually don’t get in supporting roles in Spanish films. 

I rather wish I liked this film more.

The Spanish Film Festival began on Tuesday 16 April

Check out the Festival website here

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