‘Loreak’: Would you still bring me flowers? | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022


“SAY IT with flowers!” goes the much-touted strategy of bringing across to someone an inarticulate message of desire. But “Loreak,” the first Basque film nominated for the 29th Goya Award for Best Film, and which has been cited by critics as “one of the best Basque-language films ever made” with an “enthralling pull,” adroitly thinks out of the box and, instead of the cliché, offers a restrained drama of the way three women choose to remember a man whose life had touched their own.

Directed by José Mari Goenaga and Jon Garano, the film’s narrative, scripted by the directors and Aitor Arregi, begins with Ane Goñi (Nagore Aranburu) receiving the diagnosis from her doctor that her despondency is part of the changes brought on by early menopause. Her marriage to Ander (Egoitz Lasa) has long dried up into a predictable pattern of uncommunicative ways and tired habits.

Unremarkable life

Her unremarkable life changes soon after the diagnosis, when she begins to receive a bouquet of flowers without a sender’s name. The first time it happens, she thinks Ander had sent it to her. But he brusquely disabuses her of this notion. The weekly arrival of the bouquets of different kinds of flowers changes Ane’s routine at home, and lends her life an air of mystery and magic.

One day, she discovers that the necklace that Ander had given her as a present when they were engaged is gone. She searches for it at work with the help of her friend Chema, the construction foreman. Meanwhile, the crane operator Beñat (Josean Bengoetxea) watches them hopelessly scour the ground from his chair high above the construction site.

Beñat is a quiet man married to Lourdes (Itziar Ituno), who works as a ticketing clerk at a highway toll booth. Lourdes deals with her family severely, especially her judgmental mother-in-law Tere (Itziar Aizpuru).

Overwhelming emotions

One day, in the midst of such tension, Beñat’s car crashes into a barrier at a treacherous bend of the road. When he dies, his wife decides to fulfill his instruction to donate his body to the medical school where it is kept in storage at the morgue.

The aftermath of Beñat’s death gradually brings to the fore the complications brought to bear on the consciousness of these three different women.

As critic Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald says, “Loreak” “is a quiet, eloquent movie about big, overwhelming emotions, and the constant presence of its eponymous plants, in all kinds of colors and shapes, is a metaphor for the ways in which we respond to what life throws at us, be it a sudden trauma, a perpetual state of melancholy or an unexpected opportunity for romance. Some people blossom and bloom; others wither and give up.”

Subtle changes

The way the film shows through a considerable passage of time the subtle changes in the women’s lives, and their relationships with each other, invites us to contemplate on our own choices of how we remember and how we forget significant moments that make a difference, no matter how seemingly transitory.

On the personal level, Ane continues to believe in the tenuous possibility that the gift of flowers must have come from Beñat and brings flowers to the bend of the road. Lourdes immediately cleans out any trace of her second marriage and moves on. In the case of Tere, the oldest of them, all her efforts to remember are thwarted by the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, which brings about a drastic change in her personality. The delicate treatment of the blooming friendship between Ane and Tere, the moving reunion between Lourdes and Tere, and the emotionally charged confrontation between Ane and Lourdes, bring us to our own spaces of loss where we remember those who had meant something to us, no matter how transient they had been in our lives.

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