9 February 2019 | silvio-mitsubishi
Close Enough That You Can Almost Smell The Love
I had no idea what to expect from this Spanish film when I found it on Netflix, but I am delighted to have done so. After a shaky start it slowly, gradually reels the viewer in and rewards us with a story of lost romance and father-son love. Victor, the filmmaker father, is one of life's likeable losers. His glory days are behind him but he clings to the dream of a final masterwork to seal his creative career. Ingmar, the son, idolises his father while simultaneously disliking his descent into drink and melancholy. The deceased Angela holds enduring power over both their lives. We are carried along with the Quixotic quest for the film classic that will change everything, despite seeing bleak hopelessness closing in on them.
There are elements of other great works here: some sets are reminiscent of Dogville; the sci-fi is a homage to First Men in the Moon, or even A Grand Day Out; the reverence for early cinema recalls Spirit of the Beehive or Cinema Paradiso. There are fun tricks with perspective, a joke about a diary in robot language "which, of course, the writer could read", and gentle slapstick in wordplay between Victor and a street homeless man, Victor and his sister, Victor and the truth. Ingmar hits on a novel means to escape school, and is spellbinding in a way few child actors can be. Some of the animation feels as if it was borrowed from a much bigger budget production.
For all its good points, Up Among The Stars falls just short of true greatness, although only in small ways. Maybe it won't change your life, but it will certainly make your day.