Flowers or Loreak is a quiet, warmly filmed story of Ane (played by a subtle Nagore Aranburu) who starts mysteriously receiving flowers every week. Part of a muted, lackluster marriage, the bouquets which come with no clue or note as to the recipient alter Ane's feeling of isolation. Mysterious bouquets also create nuance in the lives of Lourdes (Itziar Ituño) and her mother-in-law Tere (Itziar Aizpuru), who has grown into a sense of impotence and harbors a desire for grandchildren that has all evidence of going unfulfilled.
Loreak is really beautifully shot, allowing us to feel Ane's numbness toward life with its shallow depth-of-field that puts everything around her in a blur. We see things come into focus with the bouquets in her life, as co-directors Jon Garano and Jose Mari Goenaga draw in close for every single bunch of flowers she's gifted with. Besides the bright colors of the flowers, everything else is muffled in a gray, almost monochromatic light. There are some pretty sublime shots of hands layering on hands, intimately anonymous.
Each of the three women who serve as shifting points of this narrative triangle are portrayed elegantly by their actresses. If we're unable to relate to the characters, I think that has more with how the story is written rather than their skill. Their motivations and actions can appear opaque at times and too much of a caricature at others. The men in their lives are not given ample opportunity to develop although perhaps that's all right in the context of the narrative. Flowers are used here as a symbol of remembrance, romance, and of mourning. Like memory, it requires attention and an almost routine upkeep.
The film inevitably loses some of its weight and purpose in its emphasized grace and slow pacing. Also, the use of title cards to transition time-wise or between points of view for characters is jarring and unnecessary, bringing viewers out of the experience. The rest of the movie achieves a glacial sort of pace that exemplifies how slowly we change as humans and the magnitude of what it takes to bring us out of habitual thoughts and the constancy of daily routine. The title cards shatter that atmosphere and seem cheap at times. Overall, although there are some worthwhile images and feelings, the movie doesn't always manage to connect and we're left feeling a bit unfulfilled at the end.
May 15 - 4 PM (SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival)
May 16 - 6:30 PM (SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival)
May 20 - 6 PM (Lincoln Square Cinemas)