Thursday, 21 April 2016

Film Review: Sidetracked

The 2016 Spanish Film Festival is here! I previewed one of the headline films - Sidetracked - ahead of time to see what audiences can expect from the array of movies on offer this year. 

Sidetracked follows a trio of middle-aged couples as they navigate relationship struggles and strife. Luisa (Inma Cuesta) and Alberto (Raúl Arévalo) have moved to the country to have their second child in an idyllic spot, but their rambunctious sex life is paying the price. Alberto’s brother Juan (Alberto San Juan) is struggling to keep pace with his new girlfriend Natalia (Irene Escolar), a woman 20 years his junior; meanwhile, Luisa’s sister Sara (Candela Peña) is clinging to the hope that her new beau Paco (Jorge Bosch) walks her down the aisle, even though he’s not so sold on the idea.

Álvaro Fernández Armero’s latest film doesn’t exactly break new ground for its genre, but the talented and charismatic ensemble go some way to expanding the otherwise thin plot. Arevalo’s struggling writer Alberto enjoys the most compelling character arc as his directionless career and dwindling love life cause him to seek new challenges amongst the film’s gorgeous rural backdrop. The oddball chemistry he shares with Luisa affords the film some of its more compelling dramatic scenes.

On the other hand, Sara and Paco’s one-note subplot is missing some key emotional beats; the former simply comes across as a slightly unhinged bridezilla who doesn’t know when to quit. ArImero (who also serves as screenwriter) stages the comedy around familiar social situations and awkward conflicts, but an undercurrent of humour surrounding Spain’s recent economic slump as well as modern dating traps keeps the film feeling fresh and relevant.

The Verdict: 7/10

Much like love itself, Sidetracked is sometimes awkward, ugly and uncomfortable, but you get out what you put in, and if you arrive wanting something open, honest and often entertaining, this film is for you.

This review was originally published over at Hooked on Film, a Perth based website where you can find even more new release movie reviews, features, interviews and insight. Click here to check it out.

The Spanish Film Festival runs from April 21 through May 11 at Palace Cinemas across Perth. For more information on the program, check out the official website.

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