REVIEW: ALEX DE LA IGLESIA’S EL BAR
By Elena Anele
EL BAR is latest Alex de la Iglesia released movie in 2017. In this case the Spanish director is working again with Jorge Guerricaechevarría (THE DAY OF THE BEAST, CELDA 211) one of his favorite and, in my humble opinion, best screenwriters nowadays.
If we know something about his works is that all of them – but THE OXFORD MURDERS- are inspired by a specific Spanish element, in this case, the love Spaniards feel towards the bar culture, something you may not understand if you have never visited the country but I encourage you to do.
EL BAR is Alex de la Iglesia’s traditional black comedy in which characters are the ones leading the whole narrative. All starts when Elena (Blanca Suarez), a posh girl, lost signal in her cellular and goes inside a genuine Madrid bar where we find the rest of the main roles: Nacho, (Mario Casas) an no-so-famous creative hipster working for an advertisement company; Trini (Carmen Machi), an unhappy gambling addict; Sátur (Secun de la Rosa), the waiter; Amparo (Terele Pávez), the owner of the bar; Israel (Jaime Ordoñez), an insane uncontrolled beggar together with Andrés, Sergio and a street cleaner. Most of the film will base on the relations between them and the way they must work out the solution for a complicated situation created by two deaths, panic and paranoia.
The director is coming back to his roots, to the kind of story he did in his first film as THE DAY OF THE BEAST or MUERTOS DE RISA and he almost does. He shows the worst of every human being under pressure and he pumps every single role with a very defined dark personality but there is the feeling that some may have been left out. I miss the bitchiness in Elena, the sense in Trini or the motivation in Nacho. Anyways, Israel is best character far, he -and the actor behind- deserve the recognition for best performance and construction. I dare say that he may be included in de la Iglesia’s honor roll together with Nino and Bruno or José María -Santiago Segura in THE DAY OF THE BEAST.
EL BAR is a comedy, it is a thriller, an action film in the style of a play as most of the story happens inside the pub. That may make us feel tedious in the very beginning but as the fiction goes by the suspense grows. Will anyone survive?
Considering that this is not Alex de la Iglesia’s masterpiece I should admit that is far better than some previous works as THE SPARK OF LIFE or MY BIG NIGHT. Now that he is said to be working on PERFECTOS DESCONOCIDOS postproduction I recommend you to have a good time with EL BAR. Underground scenes may be found refreshing, you know, for this boiling summer.
Elena Anele is the woman in charge of SPANISHFEAR.COM, Horror Rises from Spain and Un Fan de Paul Naschy . A literature and cinema researcher, finishing her postgraduate studies with a thesis about the mystic filmmaker José Val del Omar. She has published in different media and books as Fangoria or Hidden Horror. She has also been in charge of several translations including Javier Trujillo’s complete works, La Mano Film Fest, The Man who Saw Frankenstein Cry and many more.