Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bosque De Sombras/The Backwoods (2006)

Director: Koldo Serra
Writers: Jon Sagala, Koldo Serra
Actors: Gary Oldman, Paddy Considine, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Virginie Ledoyen

Rating: 3 Black Sheep

Here is an interesting film from Spain that does indeed star Gary Oldman, speaking Spanish no less! Actually, the majority of The Backwoods is an even mixture of English and Spanish as it follows two British couples vacationing in the countryside of Spain. Paul (Oldman) has recently purchased the home that once belonged to his mother, a Spanish woman who married a Brit, and he has grand plans for fixing it up and living there permanently with his wife Isabel (Sanchez-Gijon). They are joined for the weekend by Norman (Considine) and Lucy (Ledoyen) who are obviously having some serious marital issues that are leaving things between them looking rather grim. Paul and Norman trek off to do some hunting and in the process come across an abandoned house only to find a wild, somewhat deformed girl locked up inside. Paul insists they take her with them although Norman has serious misgivings being the indecisive and weak man that he is. This kicks off a chain of events that can lead nowhere good as the locals come after them and the missing girl.

This movie seems to get a bad rap but I really enjoyed it. One criticism is that it rips off the film Straw Dogs. Now I have to admit, Straw Dogs is one of those movies I'm always telling myself I need to see but it just hasn't happened yet. I did however, read an in-depth description of the film and while I can definitely see similarities, I feel like this is truly a different story that makes homages to Sam Peckinpah's classic. The story is deliberately paced so for some, it may seem a bit slow at times, something I appreciate if done well. The director really takes the time to develop the characters and give us a chance to get to know them and what's motivating their actions. It's not cut and dry as far as who's bad and who's good. We have a chance to see more than one side of the leader of the locals and while his actions are abhorrent, we're given a chance to see the humanity inside. Also, the movie is set in the 1970's possibly to further evoke the feel of Straw Dogs but instead of feeling like a period piece, it really looks like it could have been filmed in the 70's, even the acting fits the mold. The vibe of the whole flick is pretty well established by the opening credit sequence; I dig it.

By no means is this movie destined to be a classic, but I'm glad I bought it and I'm sure I'll enjoy further viewings. It's a solid picture and a neat little treat if you are a Gary Oldman fan. Just be ready to take your time and I think most of you won't be sorry.

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