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BFI London Film Festival 2011: 'Amador'

★★★☆☆
Spanish director Fernando León de Aranoa writes and directs well-meaning drama Amador, focusing upon the lives of Bolivian immigrants in Madrid - an under-represented group in cinematic terms - specifically Marcela (Magaly Solier) and her flower-selling partner Nelson (Pietro Sibille).

After discovering that she is pregnant (and in order to make ends meet due to her husband's struggling flower-trading trade), Marcela accepts a job taking care of the elderly, bedridden Amador (Celso Bugallo) while his family are away. Amador is initially cold towards his new carer, sitting aloof as he watches television or works on his jigsaw.

After a period of time, Marcela manages to break through Amador's icy exterior, engaging him on a personal level that his family seemed unable to achieve. However, the old man's sudden death leads Marcela to extreme measures in order to secure her full pay.

The subject matter here is certainly on the dark side, with a great deal of gallows humour as Marcela frantically tries to slow the decomposing process through fans and air freshener. The introduction of Puri (Fanny de Castro) as Amador's former lover (though not of the unconditional variety) adds some much needed sexual humour, her bawdiness as refreshing as Amador's newly ventilated, make-shift crypt.

Amador tackles its subject matter with honourable intent, yet the film lacks the flair and melodrama of more recent Spanish social commentaries, such as Alejandro González Iñárritu's superior Biutiful (2010).
 
For more BFI London Film Festival 2011 coverage, simply follow this link.

Daniel Green

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