Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Both lead actresses are on superb form but Nieto's performance is shattering"

Marta (Marta Nieto) is in her apartment with her mother (Blanca Apilánez), planning a night out and being gently but persistently interrogated over whether or not any eligible men will be there. It's a situation many viewers will find familiar. The mother worries unnecessarily. Marta bats aside her enquiries with grace born of long habit. Then Marta gets a phone call. It's her six-year-old son Iván (Álvaro Balas). He's supposed to be on holiday with his father but reports that he's alone on a beach, he's no quite sure what country he's in, and battery in the phone he's using is running out.

There's no other fear like it: the knowledge that your child is in danger, that you can't immediately make them safe. Yet Marta has to keep her voice calm to extract all the potentially useful information she can and keep Iván from panicking. As the situation grows still more desperate, her mother suffers something less overtly dramatic but similarly difficult, her desire to comfort and protect frustrated by the very actions her daughter is taking to protect her son.

Both lead actresses are on superb form but Nieto's performance is shattering. She completely embodies the terrified parent who would do anything to protect her child but simply cannot reach him. Balas is perfect in a part that delivers exactly what's needed and no more.

Great set design and impressive cinematography and sound work round out a film whose director knows when to keep things simple. The contrast between the sunny apartment and bookend shots of a lonely stretch of sand, which gives a very different impression each time we see it, has a powerful effect. The whole is a showcase for Nieto's talent, and she nails it. If you have children, make sure you know that they're safe before you watch.

Reviewed on: 13 Oct 2018
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Six year old Iván is supposed to be on holiday with his father but calls his mother to say that he's alone on a beach and the phone he's using is running out of power.

Director: Rodrigo Sorogoyen

Writer: Rodrigo Sorogoyen

Starring: Marta Nieto, Blanca Apilánez, Álvaro Balas, Miriam Correa

Year: 2017

Runtime: 19 minutes

Country: Spain


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