La Ardilla Roja
La Ardilla Roja is the second film in the Julio Medem box set, and literally translated it means The Red Squirrel. As with Vacas we see some of the film through the eyes of the animal that has a large part to play in the film. A T-Shirt worn by one of the main characters has flies screenprinted on it, which could be a throwback to the flies that buzz around the cows in Vacas. It would be easy at this stage to assume that Medem has a fetish for animals, but I think it is more a social commentary on humans than anything else.
La Ardilla Roja begins with Jota wanting to kill himself. As he struggles with his desire to kill himself vs his desire to live, a young woman (Lisa0 crashes she motorbike and he rushes to her aid. In her distress he sees a chance to live again, and noticing she is suffering amnesia due to the knock to her head, decides to pretend that he is her boyfriend.
A while later he absconds with her, sneaking her out of the hospital to a secluded campsite where he starts to plant the story of their life in her brain. Of course, in true Medem style, all is not what it seems, and this story has a lot more going on beneath the surface.
The storyline – which I won’t go into, for fear of spoiling the many surprising twists – is an interesting one, not as confusing and hard to follow as Vacas, but it certainly doesn’t follow that standard Hollywood storytelling rules. It is made up of odd characters, dream sequences and some very bizarre activity.
As bizarre and strange as it is, it is utterly compelling and hard to drag yourself away from. It captures you from the moment Lisa literally drops into Jota’s –and consequently our own – life. Though the squirrel cam is utterly bizarre it actually ties certain elements of the film together nicely, and Medem’s total disregard of traditional plot structures, or social norms creates a fantastically dream like experience that will have you contemplating every scene after the movie has finished, trying to separate fact from fiction.
The immense jump is quality between Vacas and La Ardilla Roja only serves to whet my appetite for my next instalment of Medem.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read
On a side note, I was disturbed at the New Zealand rating for this film, there was a number of scenes that made this film – in my opinion – worthy of a higher age rating than Vacas, With Vacas having an R16 and La Ardilla Roja only having an M, I was once again left scratching my head at the seemingly arbitrary way the FVLB and our chief censor seem to rate films. As this was part of a Box set, I though maybe the wrong stickers had been applied by accident, but on checking out the ratings online was shocked to find out the FVLB had two different ratings for La Ardilla Roja. The film, when listed under it’s Spanish name has been given an M (Contains violence,offensive language and sex scenes), but it is also listed under it’s English translation; The Red Squirrel where it carries the more appropriate R18 rating (Contains violence, sex scenes and content that may disturb). This seems absolutely incredulous to me, and certainly adds weight to the call to review our ratings system in New Zealand.