Pa negre (Black Bread)
Directed by Agusti Villaronga
Cornerhouse, 11 March 2012
Another film where a child, this time a boy called Andreu (played by Francesc Colomer), must deal with the moral debris of the adult world.
Set in a vividly realized 1930s Catalonia, it is in a sense a mystery: Andreu discovers two slain men and murder is pronounced. As the police investigation proceeds, however, it is Andreu’s soul which becomes the main mystery – and there is the pressing question of who will gain ownership of it.
Then there’re all kinds of strange elements added to the mix: a youth who may be a leper or an angel, a girl with a deformed hand, a drunken, venal teacher. And there is an intense passion to be found in the women, Andreu’s mother especially.
It is a gorgeous film to look at, but everything is seen with an unblinking, a cold, even a cruel eye. The story is elaborate and complex, and the characters are richly complex too. One viewing is simply not enough to take it all in; there’s an abundance of images and gnomic scenes; the camera always seems to move too fast. Yet already it is clear on just a single viewing that Agusti Villaronga’s film is a masterpiece. It’s being screened again this evening at 6.20pm, details here.