Tuesday, April 10, 2012
She was pretty as a flower in a crystal vase. It lights up the room as it withers away... --Queen of Iowa, Andrew Peterson
A couple of months ago I joined Film Movement's DVD-of-the-month club when they had a deal through Groupon. I had a couple of Groupon coupons so it ended up being a really good price. Every month I get a film that Film Movement distributes before they make it available to the public. It's a bit of a risk since you get whatever they choose, but since I don't have a lot of access to indie films where I live it's kind of a fun risk for me. I did hate Prairie Love, the first one I got, but Amador was well worth watching.
At first I thought I was going to haaaate it. The lead female character seemed so down and heavy all the time, and unable to tell people really big life changing things which made me feel so much tension. I hate when you're just waiting around for something to be discovered and there's all these little things that happen that seem like it will be discovered at the worst possible time and you're full of dread... This review will be full of spoilers because I want to talk about the movie in detail!
So Amador is about a young immigrant woman in Spain. She's there with her boyfriend but she wants to leave him, because she's not really feeling the love anymore. But as she's trying to leave she passes out and discovers after a trip to the hospital she's pregnant...so she goes back home. She doesn't really want an abortion, she's already had one, she wants to keep the baby, but she can't really figure out how she's going to do it. And her boyfriend basically steals flowers and then resells them and that's their source of income. They keep them in their refrigerator, but then their refrigerator dies. So they need a new refrigerator and it's really expensive. So she gets a job looking after an older man, while his family builds a new house by the sea.
ONLY THEN HE DIES. And instead of telling anyone, she just pulls up a sheet over him and buys some air freshener and a fan and brings tons of flowers everyday. It's so gross. And she's so heavy with guilt, she goes to church and weeps over her guilt that no one is praying for his soul, but she can't really tell anyone because she needs the job so desperately. And she does all these things so it's like he's still alive, but he's not, and she's so unhappy but she feels so trapped in this situation.
I won't tell you the ending, but I will tell you that even though I had to put the movie on pause several times because the tension got to me (yes I'm that ridiculous) this story really stuck with me. The film effectively uses two motifs, puzzles and obviously flowers. And at first I was like, please be a little more subtle about the puzzle symbolism, k thanks, but then I grew to appreciate how it was woven carefully into the fabric of the story even if we were hit over the head with it to begin with. Amador is working on a puzzle and Marcela doesn't really see the point. And he explains to her that by putting the puzzle together he's done it himself and then goes on to compare it to life (the overkill part) in life we are given all the pieces we need we just have to put them together. And so that's what Marcela does throughout the movie, she takes the pieces of her life and puts them together. And it's lovely, too, because there are all these other little puzzles and she finishes Amador's puzzle, as well. And she does eventually see how the pieces fit together, just as the viewer does and it's all kind of beautiful.
And flowers...well I had to include that favorite line from an Andrew Peterson song, because if there's one thing this movie is about it's about how death can make a way for life. And flowers are kind of like that...they die but give us beauty and meaning in their death. As one character mentions, flowers are at all significant life events.
And I guess I just really liked that this film was about a woman who wasn't flashy or super gorgeous, just a regular girl in a lower class, trying to make a way to survive. Trying to figure out how to have this baby and she goes through a lot. And yet even though at times I wanted her to smile at more and try to put the people around her at ease by making small talk or whatnot, I grew to realize it was this very quality of hers...quiet and determined, introverted and shy that made her such a real character. The story is so simple on the surface, but I think it's a really beautiful and life affirming movie with layers underneath the surface. Much like the main character.