San Sebastián 2021 Day 6: The terror of the daily life of ‘La abuela’ by Paco Plaza invades the festival

The brilliant (self) portrait of Jonás Trueba’s adolescence ‘Who prevents it’ fascinates in the official section, despite its three long hours, in which we also discover without much emotion the French ‘Undercover’.


A genre film director demonstrates his mastery when he does not need tricks or monsters to terrorize the viewer. And that is what Paco Plaza has achieved in the 69th Edition of the San Sebastian Festival with The grandmother, which has touched audiences and critics with a disturbing and fascinating story that speaks of the longing for eternal youth and beauty and what we are willing to do to achieve it. In addition to terror, in the Official Section we have also seen the beautiful sociological and experiential (self) portrait of adolescence Who prevents it by Jonás Trueba of more than three hours although it is time well spent. And complete the official section Undercover Thierry de Peretti’s somewhat unsuccessful journalistic immersion story about a mole who infiltrates a gang of drug traffickers that ends up implicating the French anti-drug boss. And in Pearls today came the somewhat bitter humor of Red Rocket and the crazy one with The French Chronicle by Wes Anderson. And while laughter invaded the Teatro Principal, at the Kursaal, the actor Johnny Depp collected the Donosti Award for his entire career and dedicated it to the public. We tell you what we have seen on the sixth day of this 69 San Sebastián International Film Festival.

‘The grandmother’

When one of our elders loses the ability to speak, he worries about what is going through his head. What if instead of naive thoughts, or old memories, he has an evil plan? That strangeness is what the protagonist of ‘La Abuela’ suffers when suddenly the one who has cared for her all her life suffers a stroke and it is now she, the granddaughter, who must take care of her.

What has most captivated us about Paco Plaza’s proposal has been his ability to terrify with the everyday, without great artifice and where the monster is not viscous or grimy, but is in ourselves. A story about vanity and longing, masterfully told by screenwriter Carlos Vermut and starring two brilliant actresses, Almudena Amor, who faces her first leading role, and who also competes at the festival with El Buen Patrón; and veteran Vera Valdez. Lhe film by Paco Plaza manages to amaze the viewer only with the know-how of a director who has established himself with great horror film hits like the recent Veronica (2017) or the saga [REC]. He opts for the first time for the Concha de Oro with from an original idea of ​​his that Carlos Vermut has developed in the script, which won the Concha de Oro with Magical Girl, to which there are several winks in The grandmother.

Lthe history of The grandmother presents the nightmare in which a granddaughter who works as a model in Paris is immersed when her grandmother is incapacitated and she must take care of her. But it also talks about the cult of the body and what we are willing to do to achieve eternal youth. It will be released in Spain on October 22 in theaters and you have to see it.

‘Who prevents it’

When you leave the cinema after entering Who prevents it, the three hours of experience offered by the special film that Jonás Trueba brings to the official section of the San Sebastian Festival, the verses of the song by Rafa Berrio that gives the film its title still resonate in his heada:

If you are 15 years old and you intend to escape, that is enough and enough to do so. You could leave before these city lights go out forever without remedy. You could change your name to something better sounding, end your lineage once and for all. You would write down a new code of honor in a notebook but always in verse, never in prose. Who’s preventing it? Nobody prevents it.

Lto movie of Jonah Trueba, in reality it is not only a film by the director, but rather a choral proposal, built with the actors – Candela Recio, Pablo Hoyos, Silvio Aguilar, Pablo Gavira, Claudia Navarro, Marta Casado, Rony-Michelle Pinzaru, Javier Sánchez- and who navigates between documentary and fiction and who proposes to construct a portrait of adolescence from adolescence respecting one’s own self-image of adolescents without the prejudices of adulthood. The director, who spent almost five years shooting a group of girls and boys growing up, relied on them to build his own stories that are fictional, but not so much.

The festival’s catalog rightly says that Trueba’s brave proposal, divided into three parts with two pauses in its projection in theaters, is “a call to transform the perception we have about adolescence and youth; that of those who were born at the beginning of the 21st century and have just come of age; those who now seem guilty of everything while seeing their hopes diminished “.

Jonah’s film, the sixth of his early film career, has a bit of a lot: From the testimonial documentary, it embarks us from an end-of-year trip to a beautiful story of love and sexual discovery and concludes with the desolation that the pandemic has brought to this generation trapped and broken behind a screen. And it will allow parents to answer those questions that are asked when their children leave childhood, what will they do so many hours on the street? Who will they be with? What do they think? How do they love? and in the film they show the best of themselves in that disturbing transition to adult life. He also restores our confidence in the future with his exciting vision with humor, intelligence, convictions and ideas. Because as the film’s own synopsis nails:

“The youth that speak to us about love, friendship, politics or education are not only speaking about their own, but about what matters to us always, at any age. Who prevents it is a film about us: about what we were, what we are and what we will continue to be “

Qwho prevents it it is brave, beautiful, and reconciles us with what we were, and what we lost, as if it functions as a distorted mirror to the past. We are very happy that a film as special as this finds its space at the San Sebastián International Film Festival, where Trueba was already with La Reconquista / The Reconquest in 2016. Although perhaps the viewer may have the feeling that it is unnecessarily long, like if three 5 years shooting, the director has not managed to distance himself from his material. But it is worth taking a look at this audiovisual experience, who is preventing it?

‘Undercover’ (State Scandal Investigation)


A film with good intentions and ideas, but failed in its outcome. That’s Undercover, the latest from the French director and actor Thierry de Peretti competing for the highest prize in the Donostia contest.

In 2015, in Paris, customs agents seized seven tons of cannabis. On the same day, a former mole named Hubert Antoine contacts the journalist from Release Stephanie Vilner. What Hubert, an infiltrator from the Central Office for the Suppression of Illicit Drug Trafficking, told him revealed the questionable methods of the French state to end drug trafficking. An operation led by high-ranking police officer Jacques Billard (Vincent Lindon). The publication of his story was a great scandal.

Undercover it opens with a promise of rhythm, suspense, and form that he is unable to sustain throughout the entire footage. The director seeks a neutral gaze and, for that, he places the camera distancing himself from the characters. It is as if the viewer were a ghostly witness in the events, conversations and actions of its protagonists.

The actors Pio Marmaï, Roschdy Zem and Vincent Lindon -huge in Titanium and correct in this-, they are able to maintain long scenes with integrity, but De Peretti’s decisions can do little to make you want to continue listening to their verbiage. Undercover It loses steam as the story goes on, and it disappoints every minute that passes. I, personally, have on several occasions found my mind elsewhere rather than paying attention to the movie in front of me.

‘Red Rocket’


In Perlak, the San Sebastian Festival projects Red Rocket, new from director Sean Baker. Lhe film tells the story of Mikey Saber, a late-night former porn star who decides to return to his hometown of Texas. His neighbors and his wife, whom he abandoned, however, will not make it easy for him to return. But this survivor-loser has plenty of resources to survive.

Starring Simon Rex -former porn actor in real life, Red Rocket appeared at the Cannes Film Festival and then we already told you why it was worth going into the film starring Simon Rex and directed by Sean Baker:

Cannes Day 8: Sean Baker portrays the odyssey of a former porn actor in deep America in ‘Red Rocket’

‘The French Chronicle’

Finally, the sixth day of the San Sebastian contest has also shown what is new and expected in Perlak -the coronavirus caused its eternal delay- from Wes Anderson: The French Chronicle.

With his new feature film, the director narrates, like comics, the reports of the latest publication of the publication that gives the film its name. Like Red Rocket, The French Chronicle was also one of the Cannes titles and this is what we tell you about it:

Cannes Day 6: Wes Anderson returns to Cannes with ‘The French Chronicle’, which could also be called ‘How to be Wes Anderson’