Voices in the Night

English Title: Voices in the Night

Original Title: Las voces de la noche

Country of Origin: Spain

Studio: ESICMA, DeAPlaneta, Mikado Film

Director: Salvador García Ruiz

Producer(s): Pau Calpe Rufat

Screenplay: Salvador García Ruiz

Cinematographer: Teo Delgado

Art Director: Federico García Cambero, Mónica Bernuy

Editor: Carmen Frías

Runtime: 98 minutes


Language: Spanish

Starring/Cast: Laia Marull , Vicky Peña , Guillermo Toledo , Tristán Ulloa

Year: 2003

Volume: Spanish / Portuguese

George and Elisa are conducting a secret love affair. Both live with their families in a village marked by the story of a factory. Jorge is the son of the founder and Elisa is the daughter of an accounant. They put up with the monotony of the village and their life because, twice a week, they find each other in a city hotel. The secret life they lead is the incentive to be themselves and to pursue their dreams in this room where they have built their isolated world. Both are aware of what they have created and do not demand more. Until Elisa wants to become George’s wife.

Salvador Garcia Ruiz carries out the adaptation of Natalia Ginzburg’s novel Las voces de la noche, moving the action from an Italian village to a Spanish one, recreating its provincial environment. In appearance it is a simple love story in which the adaptation has tried to keep the point of view of the writer while placing the action in Spain; but, in the end, time and place is not important because of the force, purity and simplicity of Ginzburg’s writing.
Throughout the whole film the story is intertwined with the characters. The apparently-inane action immerses the viewer in the realm of pure feelings, moving the world of the characters to places of contradictorily claustrophobic open spaces, with the crowded environment of the city becoming spaces of freedom. The structure of flashbacks and the ‘now’ links the past and present against the backdrop of the Civil War, in such a way as to inform the view of Elisa and Jorge as they listen to accounts of times past. In contrast, the images give another point of view: the viewer becomes a distant observer with his own vision of the situations.
García Ruiz creates a psychological portrait of well-defined characters, with many contradictions and doubts, struggling to break the cycle of their life. Elisa wants to step out of convention and take charge of her life. But the pressure is too strong. She is a complex woman and out of her time. Jorge has had it easy. He wants to leave the family circle and yet knows he is caught. So the secret getaway with Elisa has become the only place where both can fight the monotony of their existence. The families of each one have ways of looking at life in which people live within the commentary of others, and of misrepresenting the different roles they have to assume. In this sense, Voices in the Night takes place between two eras and is a portrait of social conventions where the horizons are small, and the characters are torn between the inner commitment to build a life together and cowardice – the desire to break with the past and existential inertia.
The director has produced a period film with careful and meticulous photography, where deliberate staging helps to create the frame and compose the world of the characters throughout, with a rhythm that tries to provoke a gaze of reflection from the viewer on a hard and grim reality. There is a twist in the aesthetic of García Ruiz in his idea of making the visual narrate the story itself, and finding the inner time within each shot; ideas already reflected in the aesthetic and narrative bet of El otro barrio/The Other Side (2000).

Author of this review: Alfonzo Palazon