At The Movies: Alcarras

For as long as they can remember, the Solé family have spent every summer picking the peaches from their orchard in Alcarràs, a small village in Spain. But this year’s crop will be their last. The owner of the land is deceased, and his grandson and heir want them to abandon the farming business so he can uproot the trees and install solar panels.

So as the children and the adults get together for the harvest, the family finds themselves at odds as to how they should go on, and risk losing more than their home.

The movie begins with children playing in a wreck of a car on their property. With the innocence of children, it becomes a car chase, a space ship or anything they want it to be. But real life intervenes and a crane comes along to take the car away. The film that follows is real life, so much that at times it feels a little like a documentary. As the family come to the realisation that this will be their last year of picking the peaches, the family start to unravel.

There is grandpa and grandma, mum and dad and their children, ranging from late teens to young, as well as auntie and uncle and their children, all trying to come to grips with the impending finality of their life as they know it. But the “bad guy” from the Pinyols family, isn’t completely bad either, as he offers the family a better paying job in the future.

While the film “just” follows the day-to-day life of the family, it never becomes tedious. The older children go clubbing, there is rabbit hunting at night, the disruption of the fruit prices in the city and the young children just keep on doing what young children do, playing and adjusting to the circumstances. Their old car gone? Just use a crate for another den and more adventures. It was in fact, the children and their adventures, that I found myself looking for in the film

Inspired by filmmaker Clara Simón’s own family story, ALCARRÀS is a story of relationships and the importance of unity, and tradition versus change. A huge critical and audience success in Spain, this remarkable, immersive new film solidifies Simón’s status as one of contemporary cinema’s most compelling voices.

ALCARASS starts with children playing. Despite its traumatic ending, it’s the children again who lift the ending of this magnificent movie.

Movie Review by Geoff Jenke

ALCARASS at Palace Nova Cinema’s from 27 July 2023 with special Advance Screenings 21 – 23 July.

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