Berlin Diary 9: Two women. More women. And life in the Arctic.

Posted on February 24, 2018


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Ramón Salazar’s La enfermedad del domingo (Sunday’s Illness) is the story of two women, one absurdly privileged, the other a sort of castaway. Their introduction scenes are telling. Chiara (Bárbara Lennie) is seen in a forest, making her way to a strangely shaped tree, right out of a grim fairy tale. Anabel (Susi Sánchez), on the other hand, is glimpsed at her palatial home, getting ready for a party she is throwing. The lighting of the two scenes — cold vs warm — is another pointer to the difference in their worlds, which will soon collide when Chiara and Anabel end up spending ten days together in that forest. You can see the story from a mile away, but Salazar and his actors brush away the cobwebs and make the characters’ pain really hurt.

Sunday’s Illness plays like a companion piece to Pedro Almodóvar’s Julieta. Though Chiara’s reason for asking Anabel to stay isn’t instantly revealed, you catch glimpses of it in what she does to a wounded bird, and how she immerses a dog in muck to make a point about abandonment. This latter scene is a chilling reminder of how the hurt we cause others never goes away. A lesser filmmaker may have used the costumes (Anabel’s elegant couture wear, Chiara’s casually thrown-on jeans and leather jackets) to incite us, but Salazar doesn’t judge. This isn’t about right and wrong, or even paying for mistakes of the past. It’s about acceptance, transcendence. Sometimes, poking a finger into an open wound may be the only way to heal.

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Posted in: Cinema: Foreign