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The Gentiles (Las Gentiles)

Two Spanish girls contemplate a suicide pact as they grapple with the malaises of adolescence, in this tender and realistic drama - from the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

QUICK SNAP: LIVE FROM TALLINN

Anita (Africa de la Cruz) and Corrales (Paula Diaz) are inseparable best friends. They share moments of intense joy and extreme anger. They have created an online profile entitled The Gentiles committing to a suicide pact. Their impulsive personalities and their dysfunctional lifestyles suggest that they might indeed be capable of carrying out the self-murderous gesture.

Anita lives with her vaguely ordinary family. She seems to profoundly dislike everything about them: the father masturbating at night, the dispassionate brother, the complacent mother and the horrific cooking. She even hates her affectionate nickname Anita, preferring a succinct “Ana” instead. Corrales lives with her happy-go-lucky and clumsy mother. The woman’s chirpy demeanour bothers the female teen. Both girls have a fixation with sadness, abandonment and death. They can be gratuitously confrontational and plain cruel towards just about anyone: their relatives, their female friends, their past boyfriends and a chubby albino boy at school. The debutante De la Cruz and Diaz deliver very moving and credible performances, having been picked from a pool of more than 200 aspiring actresses. They exude energy and expression.

But not all is doom and gloom. These girls have a latent charm and suffocated joie-de-vivre screaming to come out. And they love each other, their affection expressed through combing each other’s hair, lying on each other’s lap and even sharing a heated kiss. Corrales’s mother is always keen to join in during the good moments. The three females travel together to the beach and play volleyball and take a dip in the Mediterranean. They genuinely bond. But there’s something dark and sinister inside the two girls that could destroy every possible moment of happiness.

This is a film about the latent anger of youth. About the dreams that have gone sour and turned into horrific nightmares. It’s about trivial angst that morphed into an ugly frothing beast hungry for death. There is nothing exceptionally wrong in Anita’s and Corrales’s lives, yet they have the constant urge to challenge banal social conventions, seeking an elusive notion of freedom. The highly cathartic and somewhat ambiguous ending does not bring closure to their suffering, instead raising further questions.

This is an aesthetically hybrid film, with various colours, textures and frames. Much of it is shot on super 16mm, combined with grainy social media interactions. The outcome is a vintage, dreamy cinematography, adding a ghostly, timeless touch to the highly credible performances. It is this disconnect between the realistic performances and the delicately hazy photography that creates a sense of ambiguity, entirely aligned with the unpredictability of youth.

This is also a very feminine movie. A deep-dive into the world of two young females. You would scarcely imagine it was directed and written by two males (helmer/writer Santi Amodeo and co-writer Rafael Cobos).

The Gentiles has just premiered at the 25th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, as part of the Official Selection.


By Victor Fraga - 21-11-2021

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

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