Review by Joseph Fayed
Alcarràs, Spain's official entry for Best International film at this year's Academy Awards, is a film that has already received lots of praise on the film festival circuit. Given its themes of family and resilience, I'm sure it can resonate with all sorts of audiences. It pulls at the heartstrings while bringing you through every emotion of this multi-generational family who all have different ways of trying to cope with their new reality of the land they live on being sold.
The film follows a family of Catalan peach farmers who discover that the land they live on will soon be sold, putting their way of living in Jeopardy. From there, we see how each member of this family spends the next few months coming to terms with this. Each generation has its own outlook. The younger generations seem more focused on what is next for them, while the older generations must accept that this is likely the end of the road for them.
The family is dealing with a life-changing crisis with disparities amongst each generation. However, these disparities are only briefly highlighted for each member of the family. In turn, the film follows each family member equally as they embrace their way of life on the far. This makes it feel that the setting itself is a supporting character, and the farm provides much-needed depth to this story. Since the farm is what has held this family together for ages, its impacts on them, whether physically or socially, are the main focus of the story.
Visually, the film is gorgeous. The cinematography and color grading truly reflect the beauty of the Spanish countryside. In this sense, it is the anti-Roma, the highly acclaimed 2018 film shot in black and white. Seeing and hearing what becomes of the land under new ownership is particularly devastating. What the film showcases the best is how home can no longer feel like a home when the feeling of community no longer exists. The film can be relatable for those who feel they were wrongfully kicked to the curb and are expected to adapt on their own.
Alcarràs will certainly please awards voters who are against the commercialization of farming and those who can root for those who fall prey to it. What this film says from its first moments to its last is that family is the most crucial aspect of building a home and community for yourselves. That set against the backdrop of Spain makes for a visually and emotionally impressive international film.
Alcarràs is now playing in theaters.