La Influencia

La Influencia


Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

La Influencia is not nearly as gruelling as it's going to sound. In fact, by the end this is a glass-is-half-full film, as long as you seek out a positive way of looking at it - which is very much its main theme.

Paloma Morales Aguado plays a single mother living in a suburb of Madrid. She works all day in a cosmetics shop that gets no business and is being evicted for not paying her rent. She takes her kids to school, but can't pay its bills. She's taking tablets from her local pharmacy. She smokes in reaction to each scarce stimulus in her life. She hardly talks to her children. She hardly talks at all.

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Director Pedro Aguilera presents a crushingly naturalistic portrait of a woman losing her ability to cope with the mundane trials of her life. Slowly the nameless mother slips into a deeper, darker depression and withdraws all effort entirely. Her two vivacious children, a very young playful boy and a presumptuous young teenage girl, then slowly realise they have to fend for themselves.

Paloma Morales Aguado is bleakly mesmeric in her brave portrayal of the young mother. Light and emotion seem to fall unheeded into her as her mental health irrevocably fades. It's simply, sincerely and devastatingly portrayed. In deliberately strong contrast her children are resolutely fun and active, with a closer bond between themselves than either has with their diminishing parent. This is strong playing considering the three are all a family in real life, although this has obviously helped the to portray the scenes of domesticity so naturally.

Filming with Bresson-esque brushes, Aguilera uses real locations and sounds to ground the at times wordless story, which helps it from sliding towards being too conceptual a piece. The minimalist musical soundtrack further adds to the credibility. That said as the youngsters react to the influences of their situation and Aguilera teases out salvation from their animation, the metaphysical musings have freer rein to come to the fore. To posit that if you think about things positively then you can cope with them better is to state one of the themes far more glibly than Aguilera does, but it's there nonetheless. This, to my mind, doesn't sit too evenly with the measured pictures of someone succumbing to mental illness in the first half. Nevertheless, not a life-affirming but a life-stating, life-reassessing understanding emerges at the end of this earnestly played, singular and ultimately moving film.

Reviewed on: 23 Oct 2007
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Depression overwhelms a single mother as she struggles to cope with everyday life.

Director: Pedro Aguilera

Writer: Pedro Aguilera

Starring: Paloma Morales Aguado, Romea Manzaneado Morales, Jimena Jimenez Morales, Gustavo Mateas Prins Lopez, Claudia Bertorelli Parraga

Year: 2007

Runtime: 84 minutes

Country: Spain, Mexico


London 2007

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