Since moving to Melbourne at the start of February, I’ve already been to films at a couple of small film festivals, so I thought I might cover those this week. One of the festivals was the Europa! Europa Film Festival, which runs in a couple of related (but I believe independent) cinemas in the Melbourne suburbs, the Lido and the Classic. It was a good excuse to visit both these areas and their fine cinemas, which are both very pleasant multi-screen environments, and if I lived closer to either Hawthorn or Elsternwick I’d definitely visit again. The festival itself presents a number of titles from the past few years that haven’t had much of a media profile, the kind of thing that you see at these festivals and then more or less disappear completely, which is a shame because all the films I saw had plenty to recommend them, not least this Catalan film by a woman filmmaker about some men on the job.
This Catalan-language film is made entirely with non-professional actors (the characters have the same first names as the actors), making it all the easier to imagine them as actual handymen, fixing plumbing and electrical issues across the city. Focusing on men with this career is a canny way to incorporate a range of social milieu, whether an upmarket studio, a wealthy home and a flashy kitchen showroom, or the rather dowdier and more lived-in small apartments of the city, with an old man who is keen to let people know about his health regimen, or a home with a harassed father and two impish daughters. There’s no real big plot to speak of, aside from that it’s Moha (Mellali)’s first week with the group, as the older man who runs the company (Pep Sarrà) is retiring; his colleague Valero (Escolar), however, is an aggressively annoying man who is quickly and unthinkingly racist towards Moha and it takes much of the film for him to soften his attitude. Indeed, he’s such an unpleasant bully of a man that it’s difficult to watch what is otherwise a sweet, very low-key film, but the director does her best to keep things moving along with a minimum of fuss and no over-explication of the themes.
Director Neus Ballús; Writers Ballús and Margarita Melgar; Cinematographer Anna Molins; Starring Valero Escolar, Mohamed Mellali, Pep Sarrà; Length 100 minutes.
Seen at the Lido, Melbourne, Friday 17 February 2022.