Junio Valverde, Blanca Suárez, Jimmy Barnatán, Mar Sodupe, Francesc Orella, Roberto Enríquez, Andrés Herrera / Fiction / Spanish
The light burns. But the dark holds secrets…
?This enigmatic, striking film is one of the most accomplished cinematic coming-of-age tales since Neil Jordan’s stunning 1994 adaptation of Angela Carter’s The Company of Wolves. Like Jordan and Carter’s central character Rosaleen, Santi (Junio Valverde) is a teenager on the verge of adulthood who, suffering from abject alienation and loneliness, looks deep into the darkness in search of hope and salvation. In a bid to protect him from a severe allergy to sunlight, his mother moves him to a new home, deep in a dark, dank forest, beyond the harmful light’s reach. But like Rosaleen before him, Santi is powerless to resist the temptation to stray from the path. As he succumbs to the deadly secrets of the forest, he finds himself embroiled in a dangerous deception.Director Isidro Ortiz’s energetic enjoyment of storytelling in its most traditional form is evident. By playfully blurring the lines between good and evil, he cleverly shifts sympathy away from the obvious candidates, and purposefully confounds expectations. The battle between day and night rages, but the film’s clever design turns the scenario on its head with Santi forced to run from the dangers of light into the safety of darkness. In terms of characterisation, Valverde is excellent in the central role. A discovery of Guillermo del Toro, who cast him in the excellent The Devil’s Backbone (EIFF 2001), Valverde gives a relaxed and sensitive performance that belies his youth. Impressive cinematography by Josep M Civit and an atmospheric score from Fernando Velázquez (who also provided the music for J A Bayona’s recent hit The Orphanage) help to make Shiver an enchanting and pleasurable journey into the realm of the horrific fairytale.
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