By Monica Delgado
The winner of the recent Golden Bear at the 72nd Berlinale, Alcarràs, by the Spanish filmmaker Carla Simón, is a defense of a mode of production that has fallen into disrepair due to capitalism, but also of a state of things from the safeguarding of tradition, from the old -and heartfelt- idea of ??home. The managers of a family business harvesting and selling peaches, on a farm in the Catalan countryside, receive notice of eviction and the imminent arrival of workers to carry out some important transformations for an idea of ??progress, which involves cutting down trees and the installation of solar panels. This announcement means a reformulation of both agricultural tasks and the notion of family. The eviction allows the family to unite in a different way, and therein lies the emotional central premise of this new work by Simón.
In Alcarràs we witness a liminal period, of transit, between a past of nostalgia and sublimation of rural life and country work (a daydream understood from what the characters show and say about their surroundings and lost times) and a future that is not at all optimistic , before the external intervention for the achievement of a type of progress, which confronts any notion of tradition. The memories of the grandparents that go hand in hand with children’s games, while the father organizes forms of protest to make this attack against the family economy visible. All under a warm blanket, in a world still ready to play with the idea of ??arcadia (achieved from the careful photography of Daniela Cajías).
Alcarràs is a feature film based on the idea of ??the fresco, where there is no clear protagonist, in any case each one of these members of this family clan, including grandchildren, nephews, children, wives, mothers, grandmothers, go on assembling a whole structure of subtle resistance, based not only on the protests of the farmers (which is based on real events), but on small gestures, from songs, presentations, walks or games in the pool on a summer afternoon.
There is a sense of loss, but not by way of elegy, but rather of witnessing an inevitable event from the solemnity (or from the contention). And what is also interesting about this second feature film by Simón is that this family, with its pros and cons, can embody all the ambivalence of this type of process: they hire cheap labor from African migrants or women have unavoidable culturally assigned roles. However, beyond its themes, Alcarràs is a work whose value lies in its tempo, at times languid, passive, where tensions are not necessary, but rather the groping auscultation of the timid, resigned, appeased emotions of a bleak future.
Director: Carla Simon
Screenplay: Arnau Vilaró, Carla Simón
Photography: Daniela Cajías
Editing: Ana Pfaff
Music: Andrea Koch
Sound design: Thomas Giorgi
Sound: Eva Valiño
Production Design Monica Bernuy
Spain, Italy, 2022, 120 min.