Saturday, February 03, 2007

Review: Pan's Labyrinth

This week I went to see Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno). (I will try not to give too many details, but please don't read this review if you don't want to be spoiled!) I had read some good things about the movie, and wanted to see it to have seen it, but wasn't particularly excited about it. I was surprised, very pleasantly surprised. This was an excellent, excellent film. In fact, it is definitely one of the best movies I've seen in some time.

I found the previews for the movie, which suggest that the film is mostly a child's fantasy, to be misleading. The fantasy element is certainly a huge part of the film, but the previews that I saw mostly overlooked the 'reality' part of the movie - the war zone that is the backdrop for the fantasy world. Overall, though, the whole film has something of a fairy-tale feel to it, while at the same time maintaining a horrible, cruel realism. I found myself just blinking dumbly at the screen when the credits started to roll. This is definitely an emotionally draining movie.

The acting was superb - no actors that I recognized, though most all of them have lengthy resumes of work in Spanish films. Notable: Ivana Baquero, the (now) 12 year-old star, Maribel Verdu, Doug Jones (who plays two roles in the film, not that you'd know it without looking at the credits), Alex Angulo, and Sergi Lopez.

The film touches on themes of perseverance - what are we able to cope with, as humans? And how do we cope with it? How do we manage? Of course, children are in most things more resilient than adults - they can handle so much more than can adults. They handle things differently. And this film is a bittersweet look at how one child copes with the unspeakable things she continually and unrelentingly is seeing and experiencing.

Highly recommended.
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