Friday, September 21, 2007

Solas (Alone), a film in Spanish directed by Benito Zambrano

In the film Solas, everyone is in some way alone.

Maria (played by Ana Fernandez) is a thin young woman who has come to a city to escape her family. Denied college by her father (women should remain at home), she has no marketable skills, so she cleans houses and lives in a rundown apartment in a bad neighborhood.

Maria's mother (Maria Galiana) is mostly alone. She has come into the city to attend to her husband in the hospital. Even when he is well, she is mostly alone, for he is an emotionally cold figure. She stays with Maria, who mostly abandons her to sit in the flat alone.

Maria's neighbor Vecino (Carlos Alvarez-Novoa) is a widower who walks his dog to the grocery daily. He identifies Maria's mother to be a kind, listening woman, and pursues a doomed friendship.

The plot sounds rather hopeless, but Solas is not a common film. It takes time to reveal the true character of its cast and never forces any conventions on the audience. I really liked how the resolution was so surprising yet right.

Fans of Ingmar Bergman will notice some similarities and enjoy this beautiful film. More libraries should add this 1999 Spanish film, which won 35 international awards, to their DVD collections.

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