TSPDT 2014: Arrebato
Posted by martinteller on February 22, 2014
José Sirgado (Eusebio Poncela) is a director of horror movies, putting the final touches on his latest vampire film. He arrives home to his apartment and finds two things waiting for him. One is his on-again/off-again girlfriend Ana (Cecilia Roth), passed out on his bed. The other is a parcel from Pedro (Will More). Pedro is a strange young man, the cousin of a former girlfriend (Marta Fernández Muro). He is obsessed with his Super 8 camera, recording seemingly random things at timed intervals and then crumbling into weeping fits when he watches his own films. Pedro has sent José a reel of film and a cassette tape. And José and Ana have a turbulent evening fueled by an assortment of narcotics, they listen to Pedro’s rants about his addiction to film, and his pursuit of arrebato — the rapture he feels from it. On the reel enclosed in the package, something startling seemed to be occurring.
There are some definite positives to this film. Director Iván Zulueta has a flair for capturing intriguing — and often beautiful — images, with an editing style that has a wonderful sense of natural rhythm. I admit I know very very little about editing, but every once in a while a film comes along that makes me think, “This is really well edited”. The way the shots flow together just feels right. And there are some interesting ideas here about film’s strange power to take hold of you, and the movie is somewhere between (both thematically and chronologically) Peeping Tom and Videodrome. There are some really fantastic moments, like the dance Roth (unrecognizable from her role in All About My Mother 20 years later) does in front of the screen, or the film’s mysterious ending.
But… it’s kind of an incomprehensible mess. Incomprehensible messes often make for good cult favorites, but this one kept me at arm’s length. At first I tried to get on board with Pedro’s incoherent ramblings but after a while it just became too tiring to try to make sense of it. Everything is so vague and wrapped in madness that it made me wish I was watching a movie about people with “normal” problems. I’m sure there are ways to parse this movie so that every piece falls into place, but I had the sense that Zulueta was, to some degree, just winging it. And sometimes he gets in a good groove and the film goes down an interesting path. More often, it seems to be going off the rails. Rating: Poor (59)