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Pa negre (Black Bread)

Directed by Agusti Villaronga

Spain, 2010

Cornerhouse, 11 March 2012

Black Bread

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.