22 January 2018 | VirginSpringCinefest
A powerful interplay of emotions
China, a young American girl of Spanish and Chinese origin, is gripped by a deep sense of grief and loneliness after her father's sudden death. She gets consumed by profound guilt and repentance for neglecting her father, as she remained busy with her work in photography. While trying to escape from the mundane world of materialistic pursuits, she decides to embark on a trip to all the places she visited with her father. Along the way, she encounters danger, defeat as well as triumph.
This important journey brings back to life the memories of her father. Her escape increasingly brings her closer to the nature, Spanish people and their country. Her feelings also evolve as the time goes by - she gradually matures and rediscovers her lost self. In her journey, she has to overcome very hard times, even a close encounter with death. However, she also finds help and understanding which motivate her to overcome her grief and find her roots. As an artist, she develops a new way of mourning, which represents a brighter approach to the understanding of grief. Her unfulfilled desire to unite her parents is brilliantly portrayed in the pictures she takes.
At the beginning of her trip China felt alone because of the loss of her family but at the end she succeeds in gaining a new family which gives meaning to her life. Once again, destiny puts in her hands the life of optimism, hope and belief in the essential goodness of humankind.
The eventful journey takes her into very dark domains of life, to the ruthless world of people wearing masks of hypocrisy. She becomes a victim of the most heinous crimes, which include even a violent sexual assault. The film features a powerful interplay of emotions. Poetically shot and written, "Escapes (Huidas)" is part fantasy, part visual art and a lot a raw emotion. The title doesn't correspond only with the physical escapades the protagonist must go through, but also with the mental ones. Her trip symbolizes her quest to find the justification of human existence while realizing at the same time that running away from the illusory world of sorrows is not the real solution.
A cult film in its own right, "Escapes (Huidas)" unveils the dark facets of human life that each one of us encounters at every crossroad. The film portrays the transitional dimensions of Spanish road movies.
China's suffering resonates well with the belief that women are more vulnerable to complicated grief than men. Elements of the emotional struggle with death, dying, grief and bereavement are all well depicted. The grief that spills out as a severe depression enables China, in the long run, to mature and grow a lot as a person. Eventually, she focuses on heading towards the positive direction. The film strongly conveys the message that grief is an inevitable part of life, but brooding on it doesn't make it any easier. The deep sorrow that accompanies the death of a loved one is real and universal. However, pain and death are the part of life to be accepted and not escaped from.
Moumita Deb/Cult Critic/VSC