Solitary Fragments

English Title: Solitary Fragments

Original Title: La soledad

Country of Origin: Spain

Studio: Wanda Visión, SA Fresdeval Films, In Vitro Films

Director: Jaime Rosales

Producer(s): María José Díez

Screenplay: Enric Rufas, Jaime Rosales

Cinematographer: Oscar Durán

Art Director: Ion Arretxe

Editor: Nino Martínez

Runtime: 135 minutes


Language: Spanish

Starring/Cast: Nuria Mencía, Petra Martínez, Miriam Correa, Sonia Almarcha

Year: 2007

Volume: Spanish / Portuguese

Adela, a young single mother, leaves her home in Leon for the turbulent and noisy life of Madrid. Antonia is a middle-aged woman who runs a neighbourhood grocery store and lives with her boyfriend, Manolo, and her three daughters, Inés, Nieves and Helena. All three are independent and have their own lives. Her own existence seems calm and conventional until destiny intervenes in her happiness. Certain ambitions and self-centred desires bring to light difficulties and conflicts. Meanwhile, Adela is settling into her new life, but just when she seems to have found her place, a terrible terrorist attack (ETA) brings everything crashing down around her. They must all live confronting the solitude that defines human beings.

Solitary Fragments is the second film in the still brief filmography of Jaime Rosales. In his first feature, The Hours of the Day (2003), a small trader from the outskirts of Barcelona alternates serene daily life with violent murders undertaken for no apparent reason. In a less-explicit way, Solitary Fragments continues with an examination of hidden aggression that emerges in everyday situations and is manifested in the calculation of selfish interests, in the multiplication of recriminations between loved ones and, above all, in the threatening appearance of one's own and alien death.
The presence of this hidden violence also determines the relationship between town and country, both transferred by the logic of individualism between the initial and the final image. the latter now without meadows and cows. The viewer is invited to imagine relationships, to plan routes between images and people and to weigh the losses that occur, all of this knowing that there is no sweetening to mitigate the solitude that constitutes us. On the other hand, the fact that this intimate portrayal of life is of two middle-class women, Adela and Antonia, deliberately placed at the beginning and end of adulthood, is also worth considering. Thus, through an active contemplation of anonymous lives, Rosales is able to direct the viewer's gaze toward the existential concerns of an average citizen in a cold and menacing environment.
But the novelty introduced by Solitary Fragments does not lie in the shrewdness of his diagnosis, but in the suggestion that the loneliness that lives in us is to be found both in the solitude in which the characters find themselves and in the relationship we have with the images. We are alone because we live between images, Rosales seems to suggest. For that reason formal experimentation becomes very important. Working the composition plane or exploring the possibilities of the frame, the director wants to compromise the order of the classic representation, which creates a magical effect in which the viewer accepts the cost of losing critical distance. The most surprising element that Rosales uses, polyvision, reflects the extraordinary complexity of this challenge. The picture is divided into two parts without any hierarchy, offering two views of the same reality. However, his insistent use not only reveals a set of perspectives, it is a way to break the actions, movements and characters in order to get an emotional distance that highlights the constructed nature of any narrative and, thus, to warn of the problems we have in creating ourselves as subjects. Far from offering an order, the narrative returns us to our own strangeness; reflects how far we are from ourselves. That is why the final lesson is a desperate song: there is no narration or testimony that eases the loneliness to which we are assigned with the exception of one that portrays the image in which we are alone and guilty.

Author of this review: Jose Miguel Burgos Mazas