Dir/scr: Rodrigo Sorogoyen. Spain. 2013. 90mins
A romantic drama suggesting, at least for its first half, one of those after hours talk-heavy dramas so close to the heart of Richard Linklater, Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s film switches mid-course to a far less simplistic project and twists itself around in the second act to imply that one night stands are not that much fun, depending on the onlooker’s point of view.
A two-hander carried along by Perreira’s easy charm, and even more so by Garrido’s introverted, highly sensitive rendition of a young woman at grips with her insecurities and needs,
Stockholm is the recent winner of the Transilvania International Film Festival, and while it has been around for over a year, gathered a handful of awards at home - both for its director, Sorogoyen and for its two protagonists, Javier Perreira and Aura Garrido - and would have no doubt drawn the attention of the international market much sooner if it had a starrier cast. But better late than never, it looks like the overall approval of the jury (it took Best Film and had another award for the two performances) may well provide the push it needs to go farther ahead.
The chance meeting between a bored young man and a soulful, solitary young woman he stumbles upon in a night club, is pursued through a night-long courtship unfolding in a peripatetic walk all through a city’s practically deserted streets, leading to the man’s flat. Only to end next morning on a sour note when all the premonitions - sneaked in but intentionally not explored earlier - turn out to be more than just innocent warning signs.
A bit pretentious at times - for instance in his refusal to give his characters names (it’s just He and She), Sorogoyen has his male lead engage his target from the very first moment with a declaration of love that will be repeated insistently time and time again and questioned with the same insistence by the girl, as He follows her through one street after the other, until they reach the door of his apartment.
He is using all the gimmicks and subterfuges of an experienced hunter chasing his prey, she is putting up all the objections she can muster, though never energetically enough to cut him off altogether. The twists and turns of their endless bantering conversation verge between cute and annoying, both checking each other out, each one with a different purpose in mind, putting up obstacles only to remove them, the whole thing subtly fashioned as a typical (otherwise, why nameless?) prelude to the inevitable clinch in bed.
Next morning is much less subtle or cheerful, for every indication of His male-oriented insensitivity is confirmed, only to be confronted with the frustrated and disappointed girl’s determination not to give in, which turns the relationship upside down. Alone together in his shockingly antiseptic flat, the couple’s facetious pretentions of the first part are gone, what’s left is an unpleasant present which both of them have trouble handling, as firm as they may claim to be in their respective positions.
A two-hander carried along by Perreira’s easy charm, and even more so by Garrido’s introverted, highly sensitive rendition of a young woman at grips with her insecurities and needs, Sorogoyen’s clever direction is substantially sustained by Alex de Pablo’s camerawork and Juantxo Divasson’s sets, particularly significant in the second half of the film.
Production companies: Caballo Films, Tournalet Films, Morituri
International sales: Tournalet Films, firstname.lastname@example.org
Producers: Borja Soler, Maria Jesus del Amo, Eduardo Villanueva, Alberto del Campo, Sorogoyen
Screenplay: Rodrigo Sorogoyen, Isabel Pena
Cinematography: Alex de Pablo
Editor: Alberto del Campo
Production designer: Juantxo Divasson
Main cast: Aura Garrido, Javier Perreira