Movie review of “Flowers”: They’re the title of the picture, objects of beauty and also of mystery, in this pensive meditation on death and grieving from Spain. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
They’re the title of the picture, a pensive meditation on death and grieving from Spain.
They’re at the center of the frame early and often throughout the movie: on an apartment table, on an office desk and, most significantly, on a bent highway guardrail on a treacherous curve of a winding road — the centerpieces of a makeshift shrine to a driver who died in a crash at the site.
Movie Review ★★★
‘Flowers,’ with Nagore Aranburu, Itziar Ituño, Josean Bengoetxea, Itziar Aizpuru. Directed by Jon Garaño and Jose Mari Goenaga, from a screenplay by Garaño, Goenaga and Aitor Arregi. 99 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (theme of death and grieving). In Basque, with English subtitles. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.
They’re objects of beauty and also of mystery. Bouquets appear weekly, unannounced and unbidden, at the door of Ane (Nagore Aranburu), a reserved young married woman whose life consists of days spent at a humdrum office job at a construction site and nights spent in front of the TV with her unappreciative dullard of a husband.
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She knows not where they come from, or why.
A parallel story is introduced by writer-directors Jon Garaño and Jose Mari Goenaga (filming in their native Basque language). It focuses on the disputatious relationship between a woman named Lourdes (Itziar Ituño) and her mother-in-law, Tere (Itziar Aizpuru). Tere makes no secret of her desire for a grandchild and of her disapproval of Lourdes’ sullen attitude (made so by Tere’s persistent nagging) and indifferent housekeeping and cooking.
Caught in the middle is Lourdes’ husband, Beñat (Josean Bengoetxea), a crane operator at the construction site where Ane works. When he’s killed after his car crashes into that guardrail, the story lines begin to gradually intersect. At the point of intersection are those flowers.
Were they from Beñat? And if so, why did he send them? He and Ane barely knew each other. The flowers mystify her, but also brighten her mundane life, and their very mystery quietly excites her.
When the flowers stop arriving after Beñat’s death, that seems to solve one aspect of the mystery. But then Ane begins to anonymously place bouquets at the crash site, and that unsettles Tere and Lourdes. Who is the person behind the act of grace, and what are the reasons behind it?
Pearl-gray rainy skies underscore the picture’s mood of restrained melancholy. Beautifully filmed, it operates from the premise, voiced by one of the characters, that “people don’t die until we forget them.”
The flowers in “Flowers” are touchstones, reminders of a person, but more significantly of the conflicted feelings shared by the three main women in the picture. The loss of Beñat symbolized for all three the possibilities of love.