Kai Wustlich’s review published on Letterboxd:
„She´s under the effect of a powerful experience. She´ll get over it.“
„Bit by bit“
Spanish authorship und artistry for the advanced, almost provocative undynamic and intimate.
+ in general, the sensitive work with (so young) children succeeded, especially Ana Torrent presents herself as a stroke of luck, her big eyes, her natural hair growth, her whole charisma is engaging; the many different children's faces are often captured very beautifully and pointedly (facial expressions, gestures, body language), which comes naturally and never forced or snipped together
+ the anatomy lesson on a cardboard-man named "Don José" is one of those strangely functioning sceneries that are banal in themselves, but make sense in the context and form a piece of the puzzle
+ the music is also strangely detached from conventions, does not describe or paint moods, but rather often counteracts almost with folksy sounds and melodies
+ the camera is quietly handled, long shots, slow pans, balanced colours in warm tones, often yellow and sepia or earth tones; everything looks solid and calm, but always concentrated; the symbolic imagery (honeycomb windows)
+ the mystical veil that lies above the scene; the film does well to keep it in suspense for a long time; examples?:
• the discovery of the great footprints is one of those little magical moments, same as the scene when Ana is standing at the well, seemingly communicating non-verbally with "the mind"
• what a weird scene when Isabel, who seems to be fascinated by death and has a special sense of humour, chokes the cat until she scratches and shows blood, which reddens the lips so beautifully
• the short campfire scene in which little Ana incarnates her sister as a sort of witch
• of course, Anna's nocturnal walk in the woods, when the spirit becomes true to her
+ the ending, when the film poetically redeems what it has worked for over eighty minutes (together with the viewer); compare the scene to James Wahles' classic
+/- the film is considered a much-cited cult for cineastes and connoisseurs and as one of the best Spanish films in general; Guillermo Del Toro calls him as major influence on his work, which can be clearly seen (f.e. "Pan´s Labyrinth") and is subject of many essays and interpretations
+/- Miguel Picazo, who plays the doctor here, definitely reminds me of Francis Ford Coppola; I guess it wasn´t intended
- the events are quite difficult to access, the lack of dialogue does not make it any easier, a certain amount of concentration is needed
- the film does not feel obliged to any actual story or moments of tension, there is no real dramaturgical narration with exposure, mid part and finale, at least not in the classical sense; it wants to be experienced, worked out and felt, no aha-experiences or big eye openers, not even a clear key scene, everything is interwoven;
the film is content with intimations, unclear finger pointing and it is quite possible that expectations will be disappointed and boredom sets in
Total: Significant poetic cinematographic vision and in the spirit treasure trove for modern fantasy scary fairytale cinema, intended simple, yet varied and profound. Back to the beginning and the quote: Maybe you should at least keep a piece of the child's imagination and not forget it "bit by bit".