Crossing Borders

Director: Carlos Iglesias

Spain| 2006. Subtitled. Colour. Dolby Digital Stereo. 105 min

Combining gentle comedy and social criticism into an enjoyable and surprisingly spiky whole, Carlos Iglesias’s debut as a director is a traditional heart-warmer with enough contemporary edge to keep it from looking old-fashioned. It’s built around the fascinating true-life journey of two luckless Spaniards to Switzerland in search of work. In Franco’s Madrid of 1960, mechanic Martin (Iglesias) and his family live in a miserable basement flat. When he loses his job, a victim of Spain’s economic restructuring, Martin decides, along with his best friend Marcos (Javier Gutierrez), to head for Switzerland, where a franc is worth 14 pesetas. They arrive in an almost impossibly picturesque Swiss town and are quickly confronted by what for them are the mysterious habits of the locals. Just as they seem to be settling in, their families arrive, and the process of assimilation begins all over again.
Comedies about Spaniards feeling out of their depth in foreign counties abound, but the script here avoids most of the cliches and a darker final reel enriches everything that precedes it.

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