The second film by the Galician Jaoine Combarda contains two scenes that are enough to claim it. Some of them – almost 9 minutes long – contemplate a birth, and in the other we witness an abortion; Both are tremendously illustrative of the pain and anguish faced by women who face motherhood in one way or the other. Presented this Wednesday in competition at the San Sebastian Festival, ‘O Corno’ is set on Isla de Arosa at the end of the 60s to accompany a midwife who, after the death of a teenager whom she helped have an abortion, is forced to flee to Portugal.
And, while contemplating the journey, The film manages to be both effective as a subtle plea in favor of a woman’s right to decide about her own body.a moving portrait of a genuinely feminine form of solidarity and the kind of survival story that makes our nails stick in our seats while we watch it.
‘The Royal Hotel’, another of the films in competition at the San Sebastian contest presented this Wednesday, also observes inherent dangers to femininity. Set in the present time, it tells the story of two Canadian tourists who start working as waitresses in a village lost in the Australian desert, and who from the first minute are subjected to a succession of microaggressions from a clientele made up mostly of of arrogant men and based on cultural prejudices, misogyny and sexual tension.
During much of the footage, director Kitty Green accurately captures the hip blows that young women are forced to perform to adapt to such a hostile environment., but the film gets lost on the way to its climax. The characters’ decisions become more and more inexplicable, the situations become more implausible, and the plot twist culminates in an incendiary finale that would only have been logical if Green had really intended to make horror or action films.
The legacy of patriarchy
After obtaining several international awards thanks to his debut film, ‘Shared Custody’ (2016) – about an abuser who terrorizes his wife and son -, the Frenchman Xavier Legrand joined the competition for the Golden Shell this Wednesday with ‘The Successor’, another exceptionally forceful story of male violence against women. Its protagonist is a couturier about to make the leap to stardom who is forced to deal with the preparations for the funeral of the father from whom he distanced himself years ago – perhaps due to trauma – and who in the process discovers a secret. Absolutely terrifying about his parent. Anyone in his situation would immediately know how to handle the situation, but for some reason he is certainly not unconscious of, he adopts a behavior that brings him violently closer to the man he tried so hard to escape. The result is a devastating demonstration of the power of patriarchy to perpetuate itself.
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