Anarchism At Two O'Clock


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Anarchism At Two O'Clock
"There's real delicacy within the performances." | Photo: courtesy of the Ca'Foscari Film Festival

"As dúas en punto" is more properly "Two o'clock." The addition of 'anarchism' at the scheduled hour is to highlight just how political an act can be. This is the story of Maruxa and Coralia, and a specific act of rebellion.

Somewhere between documentary and essay, this is part of a tradition of intensely personal film-making. Uliana Tatit's film characterises her journey as a pilgrimage, and Santiago de Compostela has room for plenty of those. With pieces of self-reflection, including airport mirrors via iPhone, and historical re-enactment whose palette and tone (and subject!) recall Almodóvar, this is a striking work. The substitute sisters address audience directly, a soliloquy in duet, a repetition across the fourth wall.

Wellsprings of revolt, corridors of power, archive footage and audio, history. A story about the story behind the story, a peeling back of obfuscation. White powder and red lipstick reveal by concealing. Conflict even in language. You may know 'No pasaran' but do you know its counter 'Hemos pasado'? The film will not tell you but show you. Strident to the camera, hair and jaw set, railing against Communists and Freemasons and with condemnation only tempered by fulsome praise for the caudillo, Franco. Not our subjects but their environment, a distortion of audio presaging the thunder that will follow. Air raids and barricades. Art from tragedy.

In contrast to that moment of polemic, the browns of stone and shirts, a stillness. The red and yellow of flags, of sheets and wallpaper, of nails and dresses, of blood. Dry your tears. Powder your nose. Resist.

As the pair, Alba Mendoza and Nuca Lopez are engaging in difficult territory. They are seeking to humanise figures who are memorialised in statues, without replacing people who are real. There's real delicacy within their performances, not just in the balancing act the film strikes with their use in what are perhaps less reconstructions than revisiting elements of a myth cycle. Tatit's film walks difficult ground on a tight schedule, but could perhaps do with a stronger route-map for viewers.

I happen to know a fair few anarchist flags, less a litany of my own political activism than a fondness for the kind of coffee table books that have titles like Branding Terror or Architecture Of Authority. I've seen enough films to recognise the efforts of Cled Pereira as director of photography and very specifically colourist Julie Lobo in the sequences with Mendoza and Lopez. So too the efforts of Talissa Lopes in art direction, the two were seamstresses and the fabric of their apartment feels worn in warm ways, rightly mended and hemmed close.

Neither my Spanish nor my Galician was good enough to follow the lyrics of the song performed over the first part of its credits. I believe it's Two O'Clock (The Hour Of Rebellion) by Lois Pimentel Iglesias, composed as a tribute to the pair as part of a composition competition. You can find a far less acapella version on YouTube here. It's frustrating that the film chooses to subtitle 'Fin' but not the singing, because it's doubtless saying something.

For all its invention, it falls short on a few fundamentals. A bit more context to go with the contrast, a bit more background beyond the foreword, and perhaps a willingness to tie more of its threads together would have served it well. It's still affecting, but if the test of a filmed documentary is to make an interesting story from an interesting subject then Anarchism At Two O'Clock doesn't quite measure up.

Reviewed on: 24 Mar 2023
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In 1940s Spain, two young seamstress sisters have their lives changed during the Civil War. In resistance to the Franco dictatorship, the anarchists leave their house every day at two o'clock.

Director: Uliane Tatit

Writer: Uliane Tatit

Year: 2023

Runtime: 24 minutes

Country: Spain


Ca' Foscari 2023

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