Monday, December 01, 2008
7:35 DE LA MAÑANA
7:35 de la Mañana
Dir. Nacho Vigalondo, Spain 2002, 8:02min
Source: www.735am.com and YouTube
Generally, I have a problem with directors who decide to be the main character of their films. I think they can have stronger pieces when they concentrate their energy on writing the script and directing the rest of the cast (cameos are ok). But, Nacho Vigalondo and his 7:35 de la Mañana (7:35 here on) are making me reconsider that, at least for shorts.
In 7:35 El Tipo (the guy) is played by Vigalondo himself, El Tipo decided that the best way to get the attention of La Mujer was to serenade her with an original song. Good idea. As the song moves through the stances, we realize that the people in the café are being held hostage and forced to sing and dance. Not a good idea. At the end, El Tipo stands in front of the door while singing “but like the best things in life this song begins and this song ends”, he walks out to face the cops and blows him self up. Terrible idea.
But Vigalondo’s idea (decision) to be El Tipo is, after all, not so terrible. For a short that relies so much on performance, he took a big risk. El Tipo needed to be different yet similar to the customer-hostages, i.e. a normal guy who buys his coffee every day at 7:35am and who can blend in enough that he can stalk La Mujer. The customer-hostages are all as stiff as can be and while there’s still certain awkwardness or nervousness in El Tipo, his movement flows with the also tongue-tied tune.
When it comes to describing the short some people say that it is funny, hilarious, etc., and others say that while it is funny, there is something that is off, that they can’t quite point at, tongue-tied themselves. I had almost the same feeling and I attribute it to the song, and the short’s ending. 7:35 is a musical and as such we want it to be happy, a full-fledged act but that is denied to us. The hostages are not happy, and it certainly does not end on a happy note. We want to see the color of the confetti as it rains over La Mujer, but the lack of color is just making it more poignant.
In away the intensity of its poignancy, the sweet-and-sour aftertaste will depend on the viewer’s knowledge and how they interpret the film. Personally, knowing that this film is from El Pais Vasco, and that the vasc region has dealt with terrorist attacks and suicide bombers since the late 50s, plus, knowing about the March 11 Madrid attacks adds a political commentary to it. And, while I don’t think it was Vigalondo’s intent to make a political film, he does have the background and the parallelism is undeniable. But, had I seen 7:35 at its release in 2002 I would probably have seen it more as a commentary on the loss of the sense of community in the Spanish culture. The “cafeterias” are common in Spain, kind of your local coffee shop but as El Tipo sings people seems to be “always in hurry, and always alone” moving more towards tall-skim-caramel-macchiato rush out the door style. But aside from the political or social commentary readings of the film, I agree with some of the comments on the first post about the film that it is ingenious thus deserving to be revisited this week.