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Sunday, June 12, 2011

240. Cria Cuervos (Raise Ravens)

    Spain's changed a bit over the years hasn't it?
    My first trip there was with our school in 1974 just as the Franco regime was nearing its end.
    It was still reasonably unspoilt and only a few half-built hotels gave an inkling of the decadent days to come.
    I think it's easy to forget that the country was under a dictatorship for so many years but my memory was rekindled by Cria Cuervos, which was filmed at the time of Franco and released in 1976.
    This is another foreign classic brought back by the British Film Institute (thanks to the press office for sending me a screener).
    When I say classic, that would be the description of others rather than mine.
    What I would say is that it is worth watching for the performance of eight-year-old Ana Torrent. It is mesmerising.
    She has gone on to be a significant movie star since (she was Katherine of Aragon) but I can't imagine she's been better than this in any role.
    What's the plot? Well, young Ana (Torrent) finds her dad (a Franco military man) dead after seeing his mistress sneak out of their home in the middle of the night.
    This leaves her and her two sisters in the custody of their aunt because their mother had previously died of cancer.
    The mother (Geraldine Chaplin) regularly appears throughout the movie, appearing to Ana in daydreams and flashbacks and actually playing the child as a grown up.
    Confused? So was I. I got that the movie was an exploration of the effect family death has on a child and how adult actions are perceived through a child's eyes (Ana's father was a serial philanderer).
    There are memorable scenes - top of the list being when Ana and her sisters play a game of dressing up and then play out a row between their parents.
    It also has a 60s-style song, (Porque Te Vas, by Jeannette) which I cannot get out of of my head.
    But I cannot say I was overwhelmed as other critics have been and, Torrent apart, I'm not sure it will linger long in my memory bank.
    Thus, I'm giving it 6/10.

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240. Cria Cuervos (Raise Ravens)

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