General Release 2009
94 minutes approx
Directed by -
Written by -
A single mother takes her son to the distant island of Hierro for a holiday, but he goes missing on the ferry whilst she is asleep. A search of the vessel and police enquiries with everyone on the manifest fail to come up with him. Weeks later, she is brought back to the island to identify a body. It turns out not to be her son, so DNA tests are required, but they can't be carried out until a judge is available. Left on the island for a few days, she sees her son and starts to search the island for him, setting off a string of dramatic events.
But for one scene towards the end of the movie, HIERRO almost didn't make it onto the site as it is really a psychological thriller about a distraught mother alone in a community of threatening islanders. Spain, though, has been pulling out a string of evocative horror movies of late and HIERRO certainly tries to channel that through its imagery of bleak beaches and landscapes, a bird theme that refuses to go away or explain itself, and characters for whom not everything is necessarily what it might seem. It gets a little bit too tricksy for itself towards the end with perhaps a disappearing act too many, but on the whole it is stylish and intriguing enough to get by on.
Elena Anaya anchors the film easily as the distraught mother, giving an excellent performance as the fragile, but determined mother. She needs to, though as she is in virtually every scene.
Gabe Ibáñez overdirects to make up for the slightness of the tale with long, bizarre dream sequences, longeurs spent in aquaria and desolate island vistas. It's a bit too much at times and the attention can wander whilst waiting for the next bit of the plot to come into view.
On the whole, though, HIERRO is an atmospheric and evocative, if ultimately minor, movie.Top
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