Fire Will Come


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Fire Will Come
"In terms of basic plotting, there might not seem to be much here, but emotions crackle beneath the surface and the mood burns deep." | Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

Fire will, indeed, come to Oliver Laxe's third feature, but not for some time - in fact, in the season in which the film starts, it seems unlikely anything would catch light. This is rural Galicia in all its verdant and damp glory, with puddles of mud predominating and low cloud and mist, in a harbinger of what is to come, drifting over the landscape like smoke. Later, when a blaze breaks out, it is captured in its raging infernal glory by cinematographer Mauro Herce, who shoots the whole film with a documentarian's sensibility. The music, meanwhile, suggests unspoken drama - from Vivaldi to Leonard Cohen.

Laxe's storytelling is spare and mainly built on mood - with further portent delivered in opening scenes in which bulldozers crash with horror movie ferociousness through a forest at night, their lights glowing like flames, as trees topple like dominoes before them. His focus is Amador (Amador Arias), an arsonist fresh home from jail to the home he shares with his octogenarian mum Benedicta (Benedicta Sánchez).

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The film is built on moments, chiefly between Amador and his mother, but also the small interactions he has with others in the hamlet where he lives - all of whom know his history and can't wait to joke about - and the cows that he tends. It's the cows that also bring vet Elena (Elena Mar Fernández) into his life, although there is an ambivalence to the effect she might have. Laxe studies the man within his landscape - both his own carefully constructed exterior hiding damage within and that of farm.

Further naturalism is lent by the casting of non-professionals in the roles, as we are invited to think about whether Amador is an arsonist or not and, what, in either case, this means for life as he knows it and for those around him. The relationship with man and landscape is also filled with ambivalence - with the potential to be constructive or destructive in either direction, whether it is humans accidentally introducing strange trees that kill the local fauna or the environment razing the houses through flames.

In terms of basic plotting, there might not seem to be much here, but emotions crackle beneath the surface and the mood burns deep.

Reviewed on: 26 Mar 2020
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Fire Will Come packshot
A convicted arsonist returns to his rural home.
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Director: Oliver Laxe

Writer: Santiago Fillol, Oliver Laxe

Starring: Santiago Fillol, Oliver Laxe

Year: 2019

Runtime: 85 minutes

Country: Spain, France, Luxembourg

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