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Deprisa, Deprisa

Posted by martinteller on October 7, 2014

After stealing a car, young hoods Meca (Jesus Arias) and Pablo (Jose Antonio Valdelomar) pop into a Madrid café.  Pablo has long been smitten with Angela (Berta Socuellamos), the cashier.  He asks her out and the two quickly become a couple.  Angela is let into their schemes, which are elevating in scope with the help of their friend Sebas (Jose Maria Hervas).  The quartet’s crimes become more and more ambitious, and with easy money — and a steady supply of marijuana, cocaine and heroin — they don’t have a care in the world.

Carlos Saura’s depiction of aimless, delinquent youth is not all that different from any other, but it has a grace and naturalism that makes it compelling.  The young actors — also including Maria del Mar Serrano as Meca’s girlfriend — were all non-professionals, and except for one small role for Arias, none of them ever acted again.  It is rumored that most or all of them were real-life heroin users.  In fact, Valdelomar died of an overdose two years later, a tragic but sadly all too appropriate end.  But their performances feel especially free and genuine, and you care about these characters despite their reckless criminal behavior.  There is a casualness to the way they carry themselves that marks the film as a whole.  These are not desperate junkies nodding off in alleyways, nor are they hardened thugs.  They’re just kids who, like many in their late teens and early 20’s, think they have the world all figured out and are looking to escape what they perceive to be an empty daily grind.

They are not unique to this time or place, but their lack of direction may be the product of a Spain struggling to find its way from a fallen dictatorship to a new democracy.  They are caught between, and none of it means anything to them.  Local monuments are just objects to vandalize, perhaps somewhere to smoke a quick joint.  They are passionate about their freedom but have little desire to do anything with it beyond chasing cheap thrills (the Spanish title translates to “Faster, Faster”… although the bursts of excitement are separated by a lot of lazing around).  The adults around them are clueless, ineffectual and sometimes corrupt.

The movie features fine cinematography by Teo Escamilla, who shot many other Saura films, including his “Flamenco trilogy”.  Flamenco plays a big role here as well, with an excellent soundtrack that combines sinuous disco with both modern and traditional flamenco.  Saura often uses a song repeatedly in a film — most notably “Porque Te Vas” in Cria Cuervos, but he also does it in Elisa vida mia and Peppermint Frappé.  Here the song is “¡Ay! Qué dolor” by Los Chunguitos… a song which translates to “I Feel Pain”.  It’s Meca’s favorite tune, and the five young people dance to it after pulling off a big score… stuck somewhere between the joy of freedom and the pain of freedom.  Rating: Very Good (84)


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