San Sebastian 2023 | Laia Costa and Hovik Keuchkerian surrender to the dark side of desire in ‘Un amor’, by Isabel Coixet

In One LoveNat (Laia Costa) has settled in a town in the middle of nowhere. The vultures fly over the rock that shades the house where she has started a new life and her home is far from what she expected: dilapidated, leaking when it rains and a passage area for a landlord (Luis Bermejo) too lurking. Who is Nat and what is he doing in that strange place?

The adaptation of the novel by Sara Mesa at the hands of Isabel Coixet gives some clues to the reasons for the protagonist’s incomprehensible flight to nowhere, that inner exile in the town of La Escapa, but above all it focuses on the turbulence caused by her relationship with Andreas (Hovik Keuchkerian), when, after a disturbing sexual proposal, she begins to allow herself to be consumed by the dark side of desire.

‘One Love’: film review


If ‘Un amor’ confirms anything, it is how comfortable Isabel Coixet feels in the field of dark romantic melodrama; a narrative space in which the filmmaker has woven together her most personal, most stark creations. With the adaptation of the celebrated novel by Sara Mesa, Coixet has gone in search of a certain emotional harshness, of which they intend to leave no prisoners: abrupt, uneasy, suffocating. His film moves at times in those coordinates; In others, however, she seems not to take the risks she promised.

Laia Costa embodies with moving conviction Nat, that young woman born from the heart of Sara Mesa to destabilize the conventions of feminine desire.. Small and vulnerable, his fit in the town of La Escapa (ugly, unfriendly, icy) goes through his relationship with several men (and his masculinities), in a process of encounters and clashes that Coixet films in a decompensated

It is true that once Nat and ‘The German’ meet and become intimate, the filmmaker explores with greater zeal and balance the dynamics of the struggle between the sexes (microaggressions, politics and gender expectations) that the story is about, but Subtlety is conspicuous by its absence in the portrait of Nat’s landlord (Bermejo) and in that of the character played by Hugo Silva.despite the actor’s enthusiastic performance.

One for violent and the second for lukewarm, The reflection on the pressures exerted on a woman and her desire in contemporary society is diluted in a narrative that sometimes does not know where to put the focus.. To the too many shots of the rock over which the vultures of the area fly over and the obvious metaphor of the hidden fierceness of Nat’s dog, Sieso, is added that stereotypical vision of the male characters and certain underlinings that do not contribute much either.

With everything, One Love It is a leap forward for the director and a title that will be remembered as the best of her career. In One Love Coixet’s dedication to a foreign work that seems written for her is palpable and, after a couple of somewhat light previous works, the voice of one of our most veteran and personal filmmakers is once again strengthened. The director seems to resonate like an echo in the figure of Nat and in her controversial and arbitrary decisions, involved without judgment or condescending views in the emancipation of her protagonist..

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