Friday, March 24, 2023



Directed by Carla Simon and written by Simon and Arnau Vilaro, Alcarras is the story of a family in the Catalonia region of Spain as they deal with changing times as their peach orchards is being threatened by solar panel instillations that would threaten their livelihood. The film is a drama that revolves around a family who are known for harvesting peaches as they are forced to go against a new society that wants them to stop from doing what they know. Starring Jordi Pujol Dolcet, Anna Otin, Xenia Roset, Albert Bosch, and Ainet Jounou. Alcarras is a ravishing and riveting film from Carla Simon.

Set in the small town of Alcarras in the Lleda area of the Catalonia region in Spain, the film revolves around a family who run a peach orchard farm as they learn that their orchards are to be destroyed for the building of solar panel instillations as a family struggles to keep things together amidst the growth of changing times. It is a film with a simple premise though its screenplay by Carla Simon and Arnau Vilaro is largely loose to explore the life of this family. Notably as it features an aging patriarch in Rogelio Soles (Josep Abad) whose family had been given the land from a family after saving them during the Spanish Civil War where he and his family have maintained this land for generations. Running the orchard is his son Quimet (Jordi Pujol Dolcet) who is now struggling with keeping things afloat with his wife Dolors (Anna Otin), his eldest teenage son Roger (Albert Bosch), teenage daughter Mariona (Xenia Roset), and youngest daughter Iris (Ainet Jounou) helping out along with his brother-in-law Cisco (Carles Cabos), wife Nati (Montse Oro), and their twin sons Pere and Pau (Joel and Isaac Rovira, respectively).

Along with workers they hire to help pick up peaches, the Sole family is dealing with this new threat in the government building solar panel instillations not just around their land but also on their orchard. Longtime family ally Joaquim Pinyol (Jacob Diarte) makes a suggestion in having the family help build the solar panel instillations for money but Quimet refuses despite Rogelio wanting to maintain peace with the family despite the fact that the Pinyol are rich and live far more comfortably than the Sole family. Still, Pinyol’s offer has Cisco and Nati considering it as a way to make money against the wishes of Quimet while Cisco and Roger both planted marijuana secretly within the orchards in the hopes that the marijuana would help the family financially as the latter does what he can to help his father despite his erratic behavior as well as taking out his anger towards Rogelio which upsets Mariona who has become fond of her grandfather. Even a visit from Quimet’s sister Gloria (Berta Pipo) doesn’t make things easier as she tries to help them out despite living in the city as she becomes frustrated with Quimet’s desperation in trying to save the orchards.

Simon’s direction does bear some elements of style yet a lot of it is straightforward as it is shot on location in Alcarras and areas nearby to play into the struggle of this family and their orchards as the house and orchard fields are a major character in the film. There are a lot of wide shots of these locations including the Sole family house where it is small and features a swimming pool yet it is a home that a lot of character while its first image is of Iris, Pere, and Pau playing with an abandoned, broken-down car until a construction crane arrives as the kids are forced to watch in horror as this car is taken away from them. It sets the tone for the struggle this family would endure as Iris, Pere, and Pau are just adolescents that just want to play while Roger and Mariona are just teenagers trying to help out but also wanting their own lives. Simon maintains intimate moments with her usage of close-ups and medium shots to play into the activities of this family that includes Mariona rehearsing dance moves with friends for an upcoming performance as a traditional festival while Roger hangs around with friends at a party involving bikers while he would walk home shifting a water damn so that the orchards wouldn’t be overwatered and the ground become muddy.

Simon also plays into this element of social and political turmoil where the Pinyol family lives in a posh neighborhood that Rogelio would sometimes go to so he can bring peaches to the family. Even as there’s a subplot of farmers staging a protest against the government over the building of these solar panels which threatens not just their farms but also their livelihoods. While the script doesn’t have much of a structure, it does allow Simon to showcase a family through good times and bad times where Quimet would get upset as he is doing what he can to finish the harvest. Even with Roger stepping up and helping out everyone including the few migrant workers they can pay as he is praised by everyone but Quimet feels that Roger should focus on his education rather than help out the family. Tension would come to ahead late in the film but also some realization into the sacrifices a family had to make but also how the fallacies of the modernism could try and destroy a family. Overall, Simon crafts an intoxicating and gripping film about a family’s livelihood being threatened by the world of modern society.

Cinematographer Daniel Cajias does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its emphasis on natural lighting along with usage of available lights for some of the exterior scenes at night including a scene early in the film of the men shooting rabbits for eating the peach orchards. Editor Ana Pfaff does excellent work with the editing with its usage of jump cuts as well as other stylish cuts to play into some of the drama that include some intense moments. Production designer Monica Bernuy and set decorator Marta Bazaco does amazing work with the look of the Sole family home with its small rooms as well as the garage filled with old cars, motorcycles, and tractors along with some of the places in town that family members go to. Costume designer Anna Aguila does nice work with the costumes as it is mainly casual and a bit ragged to play into the social standing of the Sole family with Pinyol wearing a cowboy hat and expensive casual clothing.

Visual effects supervisor Massimo Cipollina does terrific work with the visual effects as it largely low-key as it is largely set dressing for a few bits including moments in the film’s final moments. Sound designer Thomas Giorgi does superb work with the sound in capturing many of the natural elements presented on location to create that air of realism in the sound. The film’s music by Andrea Koch is wonderful as it mainly appears in the film’s final credits in its usage of woodwind instruments to play into the somber aspect of the film while much of its music soundtrack plays on location as it consists of modern pop and electronic music along with a few traditional folk songs.

The casting by Mireia Juarez is remarkable for casting largely non-professional actors as it gives the film that air of realism as it feature some notable small roles from Antonia Castells and Elna Folguera as a couple of elderly aunts who come to the house every once in a while, Djibril Casse as a migrant worker that Iris befriends, and Jacob Diarte as Joaquim Pin who is a longtime family friend that tries to help out the Sole despite the fact that he is taking advantage of them. The performances of Joel and Isaac Rovira in their respective roles as Cisco and Nati’s twin sons Pere and Pau are a joy to watch with Ainet Jounou being a major standout as their cousin Iris as they bring a lot of energy as children who just want to play but also help out their parents and grandfather any way they can. Berta Pipo is superb as Quimet’s younger sister Gloria who visits the family to help out and see what is happening as she becomes troubled by her brother’s behavior. Montse Oro and Carles Cabos are fantastic in their respective roles as Nati and Cisco with the former being Quimet’s younger sister as she and her husband both decide to take Pinyol’s offer as a way to help the family despite the fury they would receive from Quimet.

Xenia Roset and Albert Bosch are excellent in their respective roles as Dolor and Quimet’s teenage children in Mariona and Roger as two teens who both help out their family with the peach orchards while also wanting to do their own thing with Mariona becoming concerned for her grandfather’s well-being and Roger hoping to plant marijuana as a way to make money to help the family. Josep Abad is brilliant as Rogelio Soles as the family patriarch who copes with the chaos over everything around him as he deals with the idea of death as well as what would happen to his family. Anna Otin is amazing as Dolor as Quimet’s wife who is trying to keep things at bay despite some of the financial trouble with the family while wanting to keep the peace with her in-laws. Finally, there's Jordi Pujol Dolcet in an incredible performance as Quimet Sole as Rogelio’s son who is trying to run the peach orchard as he deals with changing times and family turmoil in an attempt to save not just his family orchards but their way of life where he would do awful things as well as the emotional and mental toll it would take on him.

Alcarras is a tremendous film from Carla Simon. Featuring a great ensemble cast, gorgeous visuals, its exploration of a farming family dealing with modernism, and its emphasis on realism. It is a film that explores the life of a family in a region in Spain that is unique from the rest of the country while dealing with themes that are relevant in its fallacies on modernism. In the end, Alcarras is a spectacular film from Carla Simon.

© thevoid99 2023

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