Elisa K

Elisa K

**1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Stylistic flair is all well and good but not when it crushes the emotional life out of a film. And despite the subject matter of Elisa K - child abuse - being harrowing, the excessive aspects of the film's direction and scripting stifle what should be an emotionally challenging piece.

Elisa (ClĂ udia Pons) is just 10 years old when a friend of the family abuses her. After the event, she cannot remember it, although she suffers trauma both initially and several years later.

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The first half of the film is shot in black and white, with fixed camera work, while the latter portion - in which Elisa finally recalls the horror of her childhood - is shot in colour with frenetic, handheld lensing. This change of style offers little in the way of support to the narrative, coming across more as a show of ostentatious posturing by co-directors Jordi Cadena and Judith Colell than as a method of furthering the story in any significant fashion. Certainly, several of the earlier scenes are beautifully shot and the manner in which the key moment at which Elisa is assaulted is impressively handled off camera and yet still holds a decent amount of tension. But that's as good as it gets.

The film is adapted from the book Elisa Kiseljak by Lolita Bosch and its origins hang like a millstone round its neck courtesy of ponderous and never-ending narration, first from an unnamed male and later by Elisa (Aina Clotet) herself. It's telling that the moment of abuse is shorn of voice-over, relying instead on ambient sounds to convey the horror. The rest of the film is not so lucky, as the anodyne voice trundles on like a bedtime story, keeping us at arm's length from Elisa and her emotion. By the time her real breakdown comes, we should feel her every ragged breath, but no amount of tumbling camerawork can help us to connect properly with the child we've been forced to view from a distance.

Reviewed on: 17 Mar 2011
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The effect of childhood abuse on a young girl, both at the time and in later life.
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Director: Jordi Cadena, Judith Colell

Writer: Lolita Bosch, Jordi Cadena

Starring: Aina Clotet, Nausicaa Bonnín, Ramon Madaula, Pep Sais, Lydia Zimmermann, Hans Richter, Jordi Gràcia, Maria de la Pau Janer, Clàudia Pons, Ricard Farré, Pol Montañés

Year: 2010

Runtime: 85 minutes

Country: Spain


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