Mighty Flash


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Mighty Flash
"An astonishing arrival." | Photo: Courtesy of Glasgow Film Festival

A mighty flash, or at least a brave one, Destello Bravio is something special. Hypnotic, oneiric, it is perhaps science fiction in the same ways that Undergods and Under The Skin are and are not. It is in different ways caught up in similar sensations, "the injustice of yesterday" walks empty streets with a particular quality of light.

Starting in the dark with a slow rising of sound, there will be a credit not just for music but for sonic interventions. The queen of the seas, the circus, the wedding march, the second, smaller, moon.

There is a painting, perhaps a place, Alilu. It might be real. It's certainly there in front of the camera as if Herzog himself placed it there. A distended massif, a tumorous Babel, promontories like probosces and balconies like boils fruiting forth like storied sores. The sound become electronically bulbous, ethereal synthesis like celluloid rushing over the hull of a flying saucer. A gunshot. Techno.

There are places where this is a documentary eye, long stretches without monologue, dialogue, landscape punctuated by small signs of human intervention. Cured meat hanging at the wake. "there's nothing in the village and people get bored". There is religiosity and there is religiousness. "serpent this, serpent that". Taste the ceiling. Tell the story.

There come moments where shots are perhaps as constructed as any other but ring false in a different way. After her story, she is refracted through the glass pendants of the table lamp. During her story she is seen from behind in a frame of concern and privilege. After her story, she is let out of the car. During her story he is seen as eyes in the rear view mirror, the world reduced to the blur of lights at once behind and in front.

Turn the light out. Dust the photograph. Hear, or don't, the whispers which are subtitled. See the Christ greet His Virgin Mother. Are these stations on some cross? Vignettes vivant? Tableux rasa. What is encoded, what is hidden? Who else is watching? Voyeurs at windows. Panties the colour of milk. Three red lights in the hillside. The hoods of Holy Week. The fields are green with karaoke. The sky lights up for her.

They are never around when there's work to be done, but when there is fun to be had? To throw acronyms around it is as if the WI were crossed with MDMA, but who could forsee The Stepford Wives on Mandy? The goat will be bathed in a bale burgundy. A raptor will flutter its way to the low table in the drawing room, a shallow stoop to polish.

Cruelties abound, their echoes metallic. Tell it to Eva, and she will tell the world. Throughout not just noise, music, disquiet. Ainhoa Rodriguez' film uses her direction, writing, a non-professional cast. I was minded of Roy Andersson, in feel if not in detail. There is sweat, sheen, churches too, but the palette is queasy at another latitude, the whitewashed walls conceal other stains. This is her début feature, an astonishing arrival. Willy Jáuregui has lensed horror and science fiction but the muted colours here are in that hinterland of the hyper-real, not just in the sense of the extended but perhaps geometric. The real rotated a few degrees and intersecting with additional dimensions. A glass sky. Two moons.

Alejando Lévar and Paloma Peñarrubia provide music for everything from honeyed cakes to policed lakes. There are several others in the sound department too, including foley credits. A song (and its remix) by Seville-based Psychedelic Flamenco Rock outfit Quentin Gas & Los Zingaros is part of the landscape. A few things about it reminded me of another experimental band, Finland's Circle. Not just in terms of their towering oddity, vines of prog unstrangled by punk, but in a sense of a 1970s that had never ended. As if every frame of Excalibur were airbrushed one by one onto the side of a Ford E-series van until it became an orb, in certain lights a dodecahedron whose every face held goblin promise.

I was enveloped by it. Reflected within its prism. For sure the bumpf around it claims it is one thing or another and it may well be but what it undeniably managed was to be an experience. To find something new even in the alleyways of something old.

Reviewed on: 14 Mar 2022
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Mighty Flash packshot
Docufiction portrait of a community in Spain's Extremadura.

Director: Ainhoa Rodríguez

Writer: Ainhoa Rodríguez

Starring: Guadalupe Gutiérrez, Carmen Valverde, Isabel María Mendoza, Guadalupe Gutiérrez, Carmen Valverde, Isabel María Mendoza

Year: 2021

Runtime: 98 minutes

Country: Spain


NDNF 2021
Glasgow 2022

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