Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Solas means alone.

Maria (Ana Fernandez) chooses it. Her anger against the world forces her away from friendship. Even her sex life has a built-in non-commitment clause, until, to her horror, she finds herself pregnant. Her boyfriend is a long distance lorry driver, who is married.

Maria's mother (Maria Galiana) cannot read. Spending her life in the country bringing up children and being shouted at by a belligerent husband has taught her the quality of silence. This, also, is a kind of isolation.

Nachnar (Carlos Alvarez Novoa) lives in the apartment below Maria's, with his faithful Alsatian. A widower, who resents loneliness, he suffers the cruelty of old age with fortitude and hope.

The mother's dignity comes from lack of expectation. To think of herself, rather than others, would encourage despair. She stays with Maria in the city, while her husband recovers from heart surgery.

Spanish writer/director Benito Zambrano places mother and daughter at polar opposites. Maria is selfish and self-centred, her mother thoughtful and undemanding. Maria drinks too much. Her mother buys flowers for the apartment and knits a romper suit for the doctor's baby. She makes friends with Nachnar, who falls in love with her.

Zambrano avoids sentimentality by a whisker. The film has an inner beauty that defies Maria's lifestyle and is enhanced by exceptional acting. The heart, as Carson McCullers said, is a lonely hunter.

Reviewed on: 19 Jul 2001
Share this with others on...
Solas packshot
A peasant woman, with saintly qualities, stays with embittered daughter in the city.
Amazon link

Director: Benito Zambrano

Writer: Benito Zambrano

Starring: Ana Fernandez, Maria Galiana, Carlos Alvarez-Novoa, Antonio Perez Dechent

Year: 1999

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Spain


BIFF 2009

Search database: