The Ollaparo


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

The Ollaparlo
"There are some tremendous bits of effects work, but the olláparo is mostly contrived of suggestion."

This is vibrant, beautifully coloured, the countryside and environments almost hyper-real - less real, perhaps the questions as to what is going on. There is the father, his routine, the son, his routine. Beautifully explained and outlined, the narrator's crisp tones overlaying the characters' limited dialogue, matching them word for word.

That mirroring, that density is found elsewhere. The son addresses his mother, revealing that he is deaf as he signs and speaks and is subtitled simultaneously. The father's day is outlined minute by minute - the nap on the kitchen table, the card games, the short walk to address his rheumatism, the goblin traps, deterring witches.

Copy picture

The titular creature is a cyclopean beast from Galician folklore. There is a village, and that village has several laws. The father observes them but some pass the son by. Only as the film unfolds do we realise that this is perhaps not entirely the case.

There is a documentary about the traditions of the village, the 'laws of the village of Molan'. We flash back to the son's birth, to things done and undone, things unsaid. The mock-archive footage is neatly contrived but doesn't feel period to the era in its animation - the date and tone feel right, there's just something in the way it looks that doesn't ring true. It's one of the few off-notes in this powerful little film.

There are some tremendous bits of effects work, but the olláparo is mostly contrived of suggestion - we know how fearsome the creature is when we meet the donkey named "Twenty eight". The sound work, especially the howling, is neatly judged, but it is the vibrant colour that gives us a sense of place if not of time. There are telephones, and plastic buckets, but this is a near-modernity rooted in a darker past.

Sisters Sonia Albert Sobrino and Miriam Albert Sobrino do most everything with relation to writing and scripting and directing photography and so on, and as with the Coens and Wachowskis their sibling partnership gives us two heads thinking as one. There's some neat pairing going on within the structure of their film, all resonances and echos. There is some explanation, far more implication, and subsequently devastation. It does a lot with a little, and its economy is to its credit - this is a simple tale, but all the stronger for it.

Reviewed on: 21 Jun 2012
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Two Galician villagers use ancient rituals to challenge the will of a monster.

Director: Sonia Albert Sobrino, Miriam Albert Sobrino

Writer: Sonia Albert Sobrino, Miriam Albert Sobrino

Starring: Antonio Mourelos, Francisco Sobrino Ares, Julio Sobrino Barja

Year: 2011

Runtime: 12 minutes

Country: Spain, US

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