User Reviews (5)

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  • andreasgol20 December 2015
    5/10
    good
    The film shows you how hard it is in Spain to excommunicate yourself from the catholic religion. This film may be some kind of slow, i must admit I enjoyed it a lot of times. The main actor is excellent. The film is based on his life. He co scripted the film. Esthetically, the film has some weaknesses. I recommend it more for the profoundness and the absurdity it shows. Or for anyone in search to discover the new Spanish cinema. Next film should be even better. I watched it at hamburg festival with some friends. half of us really enjoyed the film, the other half less... I hope the film will be distributed in Germany. The film has been to many festivals.
  • Although the main theme of the film is religious apostasy, it is nowhere near as deep and solemn as that might imply. Free-thinking philosophy student Gonzalo has decided he wants to leave the Catholic Church for various reasons, some religious, some more profane. He starts the process in the correct way but becomes caught in a Catch-22 / The Trial / Schrödinger's cat world, with no clear way out. Worse, his decision brings him into conflict with his mother, who has carefully maintained the fiction that he is academically successful, while his intelligence will not allow him to give the exam answers that will confer his qualification after years of knockbacks. Alongside this run parallel stories of romance and an uplifting relationship with a boy he tutors.

    I notice that the lead actor was responsible for the original idea, and wonder how much of his real history he has plundered. This could help explain the slightly unconvincing way that women seem irresistibly drawn to him. There are a few other flaws and undeveloped ideas, such as a scene that stops abruptly before he wakes with a start in the back of a car, leaving a vague thought that perhaps what went before was a dream. His tutee's mother is not happy that he lends the child a dictionary, saying he should make do with the one supplied by his school, but is later delighted when Gonzalo gives him a new dictionary of his own. We can overlook these things and take comfort that our protagonist was not made into a 'slacker' cliché.

    At eighty minutes, the film does not outstay its welcome and seldom drags despite its leisurely pace. There is little to dislike, unless you find the religious aspect challenging. Gonzalo's mother is the only unsympathetic character, but we can understand her motives even if we disagree.

    Overall, an easy film to enjoy and a low-key ending that nonetheless invites a quiet cheer under our breath and lets us walk away happy.
  • kosmasp26 January 2018
    Well actually not really. This is a very strange movie. Coming of age, believe and whatnot. Our main character has identity issues and I do believe that taps into a general feeling, something the viewers may be able to understand. Speaking of understanding though, there is a lot of .. well let's call it mystery surrounding the movie.

    And its story too of course. We do get a lot of symbolism and there is a lot of dialog and I guess the ending does make sense, when you think about the main character and what he "wants". Is it explaining and telling us or rather answering our questions? Not really, that is not what the movie does. So if you don't mind a movie being mysterious, you may enjoy this more than others do
  • arkinahmt9 February 2019
    Almost missed this gem if it were for the poor rating it has on imdb. Also some of reviews here completely miss the point, in my opinion. It is not about religion or brueaucracy (as also advertised in the title summary). It is a beautiful story about learning curves. Soundtracks and shot transitions are also worth watching. I have ambivalent thoughts about the duration of the movie. One part of me wishes it were longer and told more in depth; yet this might have undermined the engagement and afterthought it offers quite well.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Saw this at the Rotterdam film festival (iffr.com) 2016. I left disappointed, all things considered, in spite of several good points this movie makes. We hear and read about people who switch to a new religion, which requires positive action and a certain degree of devotion to persevere and to convince the new church to accept a truly new member. On the other hand, wanting to to apostatize is something completely different, if not more trouble than it is worth, given that a silent majority only believe on paper, and have practically lost (as good as) the religion taught in their youth.

    Our main protagonist started the process to apostatize all right with a visit to his old church to obtain a copy of his baptismal record, this being a formal step necessary per religious law. Accidentally his request was handled by the parish priest who baptized him many many years ago. Even more interesting was a subsequent meeting with the bishop, who was pointing to St Augustin as an example, who was known to have also doubted his faith but sustained nevertheless. Another story line involves his family who only heard of his plans via-via and at a very late stage. As a matter of course, his mother was very disappointed, not only for him losing his faith but also "what other people will think/say about it". Witnessing the various people he meets along the process, we see that our main protagonist seems well versed and determined to bring this task to an end.

    On the other hand, his general behavior is far from spotless overall, and his educational results are not good either. Is he a failure, a debauchee or just an easy living bon-vivant who cannot care about his future? I sincerely missed a follow-up on his near-meeting with a group of people concerned with personal privacy, like Bits Of Freedom (NL) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (US). Alas, he was distracted when seeing naked people passing by and he followed them into a meeting of nudists, who (for some reason) started whispering about him against each other (we could not hear what was said).

    (*** possible spoiler ahead ***) He demonstrates another instance of irresponsible behavior in the final scene, where we see him tearing a page from the church record. This is the page with his own baptismal record, but also containing similar information on several other people, and this action yields neither a conclusive ending nor a formal closure. Nice touch was that he was nearly caught in the act, and left the church walking backwards while hiding the torn page behind his back. This exactly demonstrates what the official procedure looked like, outlined in aforementioned meeting by the bishop as being customary in earlier days to abstain.

    All in all, a mixed bag of good and wishy-washy things in this movie, and I had expected much more contents. Anyway, the story clearly demonstrates how difficult it is to really detach yourself from the catholic church, while over 90% of the people are church members by default without really thinking about it, let alone taking the trouble to abstain. Most people will rather keep their belief "dormant" and recognize the existence of the church only on special occasions (marriage, death, Christmas, etcetera), for the simple reason that everyone else does it. The movie nicely shows the formal process as per religious law, and also demonstrates the endless obstacles raised by the church hierarchy, something only fully determined people will get through with.