Directors Aitor Mazo and Paxto Tellería succeed in creating a brisk film that touches on both the farcical and the melodramatic in the lives of four long-time friends Xabi (Gorka Oxtoa), Maria (Sara Cózar), Jone (Itziar Atienza) and Lukas (Mikel Lozada). What keeps the viewer’s interest is the question that weaves its way through all the capers of Xabi: would the lies Xabi uses in order to bypass the heart’s true affections be able fix things as well?
Set in Barcelona and Bilbao, two geographic points connected by train and by the autopista, the story begins with Xabi’s present life in Barcelona, made seemingly stable by a job in the bank and a relationship with Neréa (Bárbara Goenago).
One day, however, the shocking news from Jone that reaches him on his movil brings him on the train back to Bilbao: his university roommate and close friend Maria had been admitted to the ICU after a heart attack, borne from a serious congenital heart disease. And she could die any time. Maria had no family in Bilbao except her three closest friends from university days.
Xabi joins Jone and Lukas in their vigil of Maria’s condition. But he is given the second shock from his friends with the revelation that Maria had secretly desired and loved him when he and Maria were roommates. Thinking that Maria didn’t have much time to live, Xabi tells her when he sees her in the ICU a well-intentioned compassionate lie that he, too, had desired and loved her before but had just been too shy to admit it when they were younger. Maria is at first incredulous and recalls that Xabi’s motto as a man-about-town was “Love is damaging to sex.” But Xabi convinces her that his affection was real, and she in turn professes that her love for him had never ended.
Her fragile condition responds positively to Xabi’s delayed declaration of affection and she regains her health, which her doctor Santi (Aitor Mazo) thinks would give her three months to live, at the maximum. Xabi, the pathological liar who seems to inadvertently talk himself into his lies, finds himself promising to live with Maria in Bilbao for three months, in order to take care of her. Duplicitous as he knew he was, he nevertheless wanted to remain in control of his story.
Lies and complications
Xabi’s lies beget more and more lies, complicating his life in ways that he had never conceived of. Lukas warns him that a liar must have a sharp memory to keep track of all the lies he had already told, as well as the lies he might still be able to concoct to protect himself from being caught. Xabi at first succeeds in maintaining his long-distance relationship with Neréa in Barcelona, who eventually told him that she was pregnant. He also initially succeeds in maintaining his relationship in Bilbao with Maria, sharing her apartment and eventually her bed.
Everything comes to a head by Christmas Eve in Bilbao, when a now very pregnant Neréa decides to surprise Xabi with a visit. What follows is a series of near-errors and errors, which consistently deliver a good laugh. And if the point of comedy is to elicit laughter by showing us our human foibles, by exposing some lesser part of ourselves and making us see that in reality we are not as great as we think we are, bueno, this movie makes frolicking sense.
Watch it with friends, especially those who have the humor to admit to having been caught flat-footed and red-faced at least once in their life!
“Bypass” will be screened in Película at Greenbelt 3, Cinema 1, on Oct. 14, 7 p.m.
For complete information on the Festival, call Instituto Cervantes at 5261482); visit www.manila.cervantes.es or www.facebook.com/InstitutoCervantesManila.
Marjorie Evasco is an award-winning poet who writes in English and Cebuano. She is the author of the poetry books “Dreamweavers: Selected Poems 1976-1986” (1987), “Ochre Tones: Poems in English and Cebuano” (1999) and “Fishes of light / Peces de luz” (2013).