Lazy Days

Lazy Days

***

Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Nando (Darío Paso) has an unusual condition. Sometimes, if he starts laughing, he is unable to stop, and ends up in hospital. "Make sure that if you say something funny, it's not too funny, " his friend Roberto Carlos (Juanfra Juárez) explains. "It could kill him."

This detail, one of many quirky elements that make up Lazy Days, perhaps best characterises the overall bittersweetness of Jésus Ponce's film, where the humour, while liberally spread, is always tempered with more sombre notes. Lazy Days may be set in an outer suburb of Seville, but with its focus on the arrested development of three boyish adults, it is not so very far from the cinematic terrains most commonly associated with Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up) – and yet here these young men's drift into adulthood is not so much jubilantly celebrated as marked with a somewhat melancholic resignation.

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Unemployed thirtysomething slackers Roberto Carlos, Nando and Grabi (Ivan Massagué) spend their days together glued to the same courtyard bench, drinking beer, eating chocolate and commenting surreally on the little world round them – while their nights are spent apart (and alone) in the homes of their respective parents. The trio may seem a tight unit, but its fragility is exposed every time Roberto Carlos walks just the few steps to the bakery opposite the bench to get supplies. There he has begun an illicit affair with the baker (Mercedes Hoyos), and although she has no intention of leaving her husband, she has given the feckless young man a taste of what he has been missing all these years.

Recognising Roberto Carlos' desperation, Grabi's younger, more sexually experienced sister Chica (Ana Cuesta) introduces him to the similarly needy Sunci (Pilar Crespo), and soon – very soon - love is in the air. It is enough to shake Roberto Carlos out of his lethargic torpor, and to force his two virginal friends to confront their own problems before they end up like the old alcoholic hobo Moisés (Xosé Bonome) who keeps telling them ominously: "I was like you at your age."

Déjate Caer, the original Spanish title of Lazy Days, translates literally as "Let Yourself Fall", and fall is what these characters do – into love, into work and into life - after over a decade of merely sitting and occasionally looking over the edge. Whether that fall will improve their lot or just mark their permanent exclusion from paradise is left somewhat open, but at least they have started moving. Movement, after all, is what gives cinema life, whereas their sedentary existence makes for a film that inevitably seems longer than it actually is.

Ponce does his best to keep the basic coming-of-age set-up interesting by inserting all manner of nuanced, often comic observations on the three men's domestic situations, and the acting here is all top notch - but if Lazy Days has a fault, it is its pacing, as torpid as the boys' lives, so that by the end, or indeed long before then, the viewer, too, is desperate for these workshy wastrels to "wake up" (as Chica puts it) and get on with growing up.

Reviewed on: 20 Oct 2008
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A group of thirtysomething slackers come of age.

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London 2008

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If you like this, try:

The 40 Year Old Virgin