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The Night of the Sunflowers

Director: Jorge Sanchez-Cabezudo

Spain-Portugal-France| 2006. Subtitled. Colour. Dolby Digital Stereo. 123 min


Jorge Sanchez-Cabezudo finds an unlikely home film noir in the forgotten hinterlands of the Spanish interior with his gripping, assured debut The Night of the Sunflowers. A dark, substantial plotline spread over six increasingly tantalising episodes and an intimate knowledge of the dynamics of Spanish rural life are the twin foundations for a beguiling piece. In the opening episode, a vacuum cleaner salesman (sublimely creepy Manuel Moron) rapes Gabi (Judith Diakhate) in an isolated spot as she awaits the arrival of her husband and his assistant. Infuriated upon finding Gabi in a state of shock, the two men go in search of the rapist, but end up killing the wrong person. Two members of the civil guard investigate the crimes, but from very different perspectives. The film is structured so that a different character is to the fore in each of the six episodes, meaning the plentiful thrills are appropriately distributed. Psychological motivation is carefully positioned early on, with smart pacing maintaining the film’s grip to the strangely muted night-time finale. The performances are superb. —Jonathan Holland/’Variety’.

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