Friday, November 04, 2016

Foreign movie Friday: 7 Años

Imagine you are one of four partners of a highly successful technology firm. Imagine that you become frustrated with the government spending of your hard-earned tax money in your country, Spain, and decide to overcome the problem by committing tax fraud and stashing away millions in secure Swiss accounts. Now, the Spanish tax authorities smell a rat and are about to pounce on your clandestine accounts et al. You are all certain to go to jail for at least seven years. But. There is a way out. If one of you takes the fall, not all need to be imprisoned. One can save the other three. 

How do you decide who makes the sacrifice?

This is the premise of the hot-off-the-press drama 7 Años. It premiered on the 28th of October, and thank you Netflix for bringing us this first original European Spanish production. 

So, the four friends and business partners are Luis, Veronica, Marcel, and Carlos. Rather astutely, they hire a mediator to help them solve their conundrum. (Jose the mediator  has a rather thorny task, obviously, but he's offered a cushy sum for his troubles.) The very fact that the four have hired him at all tells us something about them, and as we progress in this tight 77-minute drama, we see more and more of these characters. 

And that's all there is to it. Filmed entirely in the large and modern space of their tech company headquarters/meeting room, the camera pans from face to face, limning gestures, recording voices, extracting motivations and back-stories. In the beginning the camera-work was in fact a little jumpy, leading me to doubt whether I would be able to focus for the duration. But as it went along, the path taken by the characters becomes so engaging and wholly relevant that camera-work is relegated to the background.

All of the actors were unknown to me except for Juana Acosta who plays Vero. (She appeared in the t.v. series Velvet.) And suffice to say, I'm looking forward to seeing more of them. The performances are spot on. Understated but deeply-felt, fully meshing with the realist-minimalist vision of the director. As the minutes pass, the viewer is tempted to form their own hypothesis of the ending, knowing full-well that s/he will probably be thwarted. I had formed my own, and when the ending did arrive I was proven pleasantly off-track.

Not much more one can ask from a film.

Director: Roger Gual
Overall rating: 7/10

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

What an awesome premise...you piqued my interest so heavily I couldn't stop thinking about how to go about making such a challenging decision.

Excellent review, glad to hear Netflix doing this...

Anonymous said...

Yeah like the movie as well. Short and not too talky. Pretty neat. Are you interested only in European Spanish movies? Curious. I'm biased myself. Learned to speak Spanish in Madrid and have a hard time with the Lat Am version now.

dm said...

I find European Spanish a bit easier to understand so I suppose you could say I prefer it...although I am slowly trying to get my head around Cuban. That's a challenge: I watch "Celia" on Netflix and "4 Estaciones in Habana". Subtitles to the rescue, frequently, hehehe.

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