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Stillness in the Storm (Gelditasuna Ekaitzean)

Basque tale of unrequited love in the vein of Truffaut and Hong Gang-soo is gently heartwarming and pleasant to watch - live from the 22nd Transylvania International Film Festival


The action takes place in San Sebastian. A giant whale is stranded on the Beach of La Concha, and it’s still alive. Two young strangers quickly glance at each other. Lara (Loreto Mauleon) and Daniel (Inigo Gastesi) are young and beautiful, their hearts filled with romantic ambitions. They eventually meet again and bond. They find comfort in each other’s company, however there’s something preventing their love from fully blossoming.

Stillness in the Storm zigzags back and forth in time, between the time Lara and Daniel first met, and seven years later, when they meet again by chance. Lara has returned from France after living abroad for several years. They are both in a happy relationship. Daniel is an estate agent attempting to sell an apartment to Lara and her French partner Telmo. He thinks that his wife Vera is pregnant. He also believes that he has some sort of sixth sense, an intuitive faculty that allows him to see what other don’t. The apartment in question is entirely unfurnished and empty, with a large broken window, destroyed by the stormy sea. This damage becomes representative of Lara and Daniel’s unrequited love. Could it be that the stormy weather will forge a new, unexpected entrance into their love? The fate of romance becomes an act of God.

These movements back and forth in time are a little difficult to understand in the first two thirds of the film. Perhaps this was intentional, with the director wanting viewers to wait until the end of the film before they put the puzzle pieces together. At times, however, it feels a little disjointed, in a script with a few loose ends.

Alberto Gastesi’s first feature film is a highly conversational endeavour, with characters engaging in banal yet very candid conversations at the dinner table, on the beach or on the telephone. Characters share shallow reflections and pearls of knowledge about the meaning of love with the confidence of a skilled salesman. As most of us do. These interactions are completely plausible and relatable. This might recall Truffaut, Hong Sang-soo or even the slower and more meditative Eric Rohmer. There is no steamy sex. And there are no shocking twists, but instead the ironic serendipities that life has in store for each one of us.

Filmed in black and white in an unusual 4×3 ratio, and spoken in Basque and Castilian, Stillness in the Storm has a melancholic, vintage feel (despite being set in present-day Donostia). The weather is cold and rainy, with characters seeking shelter under the building facade or inside their cosy flats. The titular storm does not wreck lives, leaving nothing but destruction. Instead, this tempest of emotions locks people in nostalgia and solitude, longing for a different type of weather that may never materialise. Life can take a sudden turn for the better of for the worse, love can instantly evaporate into thin air and never return. Our future is an unpredictable as the weather of the rich and elegant Northern Spanish city that’s on display here.

Stillness in the Storm is in the Official Competition of the 22nd Transylvania International Film Festival, in Cluj Napoca. DMovies is live at the event unearthing the dirty gems exclusively for you.

By - 15-06-2023

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