For my money, Spanish director Jaime Rosales is the most interesting of the filmmakers currently working in the so-called "Catalan school" of austere art-house filmmaking, less wilfully obscure than Marc Recha or Albert Serra, yet as playful and wide-eyed as José Luis Guerín. With his fourth feature, Sueño y Silencio, Mr. Rosales brings us an exquisitely delicate, patient meditation on mourning, focussed on the absence and the void left by a tragic death in the family in a (tastefully elided) car accident.

     It would be tempting to define the film's "before" and "after" segments as "dream" and "silence", but it would be openly wrong, as both concepts are interconnected throughout in a film whose key lies in the communication, or lack thereof, between architect father Oriol (Oriol Roselló) and his teacher wife Yolanda (Yolanda Galocha). After the car driven by Oriol crashes, killing the couple's eldest teenage daughter, all attempts at communicating between them are deafened by the brutal silence left by her absence. Mr. Rosales makes tangible that silence as it slowly transmogrifies into a stunningly ethereal tale of coping with grief that briefly suggests an ethereal, floating ghost story, much helped by Óscar Durán's superb black-and-white Scope photography and the stunning sound design that eschews practically all music.

     Eventually, Sueño y Silencio evolves into an evocatively emotional look at family dynamics that maintains its delicate, tightrope nature throughout, and confirms the director, on the face of his growing body of work, as one of the finest filmmakers working in contemporary Spain.

Cast: Oriol Roselló, Yolanda Galocha, Alba Ros Montet, Celia Correas, Jaume Terradas, Laura Latorre, Carmen Gamboa, Nadia Akdoumi, Derek Bush, Catherine Demazière

Director: Jaime Rosales
Screenplay: Mr. Rosales, Enric Rufas
Cinematography: Óscar Durán (black & white, widescreen)
Music: Clément Trahard
Designer: Ion Arretxe
Costumes: Wanda Morales
Editor: Nino Martínez Sosa
Producers: Mr. Rosales, José María Morales, Jérôme Dopffer (Fresdeval Films, Wanda Visión and Les Productions Balthazar)
Spain/France, 2012, 112 minutes

Screened: Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival official competitive screening, Medeia Monumental 4 (Lisbon), November 15th 2012


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