The Night Of The Sunflowers (15)

Written and Directed by Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo
Screening at FACT from 15th June 2007

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This is a top-notch feature debut by Spanish director Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo. It is set out in six episodes, with the emphasis in each focusing on one of the main characters.

The film opens with the unseen rape and murder of a woman in a sunflower field. Although the culprit is never found, this horrendous incident triggers off what happens in the rest of the movie, with a possible suspect for the crime - vacuum salesman (Manuel Morón) - later attacking a woman in the woods, which results in further tragic events taking place.

Although the sunflower actively responds to the rays of the sun, most of the film takes place when the sun has gone down. Was Jorge symbolising dark deeds, dark thoughts, dark motives that engulfed the perpetrators of violence, deceit and treachery that are dominant throughout?

The director's choice of location is intriguing - a desolate rural spot where villages lie empty except for one or two people clinging on to their memories of their families living there in more prosperous times.

The urge to move, from this almost forgotten world, particularly by young people, is exemplified by Tomás (Vicente Romero), a civil guard who is desperate to escape the stultifying relationship he has with his fiancée Raquel (Nuria Mencía), who wants to settle down in the village where they live.

Tomas has the chance to collect a lucrative pay off by Esteban (Carmelo Gómez), who has agreed to hand over the cash to him, in order to keep secret his killing of one of the old-timers in the village, Cecilio (Cesáreo Estébanez), who he mistakenly believed sexually assaulted his partner Gabi (Judith Diakhate).

But his means to escape from the isolation of the country backfires when his scheming ways are uncovered by Raquel’s wily father, who is also in the Civil Guard.

Jorge has a highly promising future ahead of him if he can produce more films of the calibre of The Night Of The Sunflowers.

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