Irish Film Institute -Leo


Probably best know for 1975’s Furtivos (Poachers), one of the key films about Spain’s political transition from dictatorship to democracy, veteran Jose Luis Borau won this year’s Best Director Goya (the Spanish equivalent of an Oscar) for Leo, a moving portrait of lives lived on the margins of society. Leo (Ic’ar Bollain) is a boyish young woman who survives by gathering up old cardboard boxes in the grey, grimy industrial estates on the outskirts of Madrid. There she meets night watchman Salva (Javier Batanero), an inexperienced young man who falls for her. Salva’s clumsy attempts to seduce Leo are met with a frosty reception, but he finds her a job in a clothing factory where illegal immigrants work. Leo carries her past like a burden, and she eventually turns to Salva to help ease the weight of her troubles. Part realistic chronicle of underbelly life and part lowlife thriller, Leo bravely tackles subjectsÑchild abuse, illegal immigrants and the impoverished conditions in which they live and workÑthat most Spanish filmmakers wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. The bright-eyed, effervescent Bollain (she was in Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom) consolidates her reputation as one of Spain’s finest actresses in a role written for her by Borau, while newcomer Batanero is entirely convincing in his decline from fresh-faced young lover to embittered agent of doom.
Spain, 2000.
English subtitles.
Dolby stereo.
86 mins.

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