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Ourense, Spain, 1940. Every time that Elena locks the door, she locks her secrets. Her husband Ricardo spend years hidden in his house with his children (Elenita and Lorenzo), trying to dodge persecution. Salvador, a priest confused after battling in the front, returns to seminary in Ourense.Written by
The film has received a lot of criticism for not being true to the book. Adapting novels is no easy task especially when you have to fit it into a 100 minute. I haven't read the novel and based on what I've seen of this film, I don't think it's as bad as a majority have called it. I do agree that it could have been a lot more. The film could have further explored the tension and terror of the Franco regime. The angle with the daughter and her boyfriend is very poorly developed.
In the end, the focus of Rafael Azcona's script is on the infatuation of a young deacon and Elena and Ricardo's attempt to live together in secret. The infatuation theme is well explored. The character Salvatore is constantly in doubt and gives in to temptation which eventually gets the better of him. Ricardo is presumed dead or escaped. He continues to write against the regime in secrecy. The conflicts that arise between him and his wife and his own anguish and struggle could have been further developed.
The plus is that 'Los Girasoles Ciegos' is a well made film on the technical side. It 'looks' clean. The polished sets, costumes, locations etc are nice to look at. The score is pretty good too. This film does provide some insight(albeit a toned down one) to those who know very little about Spain under Franco's power.
The performances stand out. Maribel Verdú does a fine job as the wife struggling to hide her husband, to maintain the family secrecy and deal with the deacon's infatuation. The role itself is a little bleak but Verdú manages to rise above it. The Ricardo character is sketchy but Javier Cámara does the best he can. Raul Arévalo is brilliant in a complex role.
Given the source, 'Los Girasoles Ciegos' had potential. However, as a standalone film, in my opinion, it's not a complete failure as I found it to be quite a watchable film.
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