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Man’s inconsistency in the face of life’s incomprehensibility is nothing but the most powerful and silent manifestation of the wonder which his own condition arouses in him. Full of flaws, plagued by fear, suffering from needs that it cannot fulfill, and destroyed by misery that oppresses and wounds it, reminding it that all the powers it thinks it has are a foolish illusion, the human soul is lost and is on the other side. the deepest and most barbaric of its vast possibilities, sheltering an idea of ​​redemption, sometimes distant, perhaps hidden in some star, sometimes so close that it stumbles into the vulgarity of everyday life, an environment where truly beautiful dreams gravitate , of progress, integration, continuity. An allegory of all that can be of mystery and light, obscurity and revelation in the trajectory of one individual and all of them, “Handia” almost always operates within the reach of the unseen. Directors Aitor Arregi and Jon Garaño use this component, a kind of magic that hovers a finger over the hardness of matter, but so powerful that it determines the fortunes and misfortunes of mortals, indifferent to criteria other than our invincible collapse on Earth.

Arregi and Garaño enter a hectic, heavy everyday life, imbued with hard work in the fields and the need to dream, suffocated by the urgency of staying alive in a part of the world that has always been forgotten, but which arouses the interest of the authorities in relation to a scenario with particular uncertainty. After a brief introduction of the characters, with the beautiful sequences of the prairies in the interior of the Basque country, between the north of Spain and the south-west of France, where the excellent photography of Javier Agirre repeats this bucolic aura of the plot, the directors rightly believe, begin to explore the plot’s dramatic substance by drawing on historical hindsight. The text of Arregi and Garaño, written with Andoni de Carlos and José Mari Goenaga, excels in maintaining this eternal deviation from the obvious, serving as poetry to soften it afterwards.

A family’s journey through the First Carlist War (1833-1840) is particularly stormy for Eleizegui. Antonio, played by Ramón Agirre, is asked to choose one of his two sons to fight in the royalist troops facing the liberals, commanded by Carlos María Isidro de Borbón (1788-1855). The patriarch chooses Martín, but he did not count on the fact that the eldest son, the ambiguous type embodied with affection by Joseba Usabiaga, returned home seriously injured. With the family’s workforce unused forever, they stand on the edge between indignity and starvation, until Martín convinces his younger brother, Miguel Joaquín, the giant of Altzo, to appear as an aberration in the genre’s many shows in the mid-19th century. The youngest submits to the businessmen’s humiliation and Martín’s greed as he tries to learn how to deal with this new universe that fascinates and frightens him and where everyone sees him as a monster whose only use is to satisfy their morbid curiosity and provoke derisive laughter .

It is difficult to decide who should be the central character of “Handia”. Usabiaga’s visible artistic carpentry becomes even more sophisticated as Eneko Sagardoy’s performance emerges. Sagardoy captures with rare sensitivity the pain of this enormous man, 2.42 meters tall, frail as a child, hostage to his own body, preventing him from any chance of satiety, even the most fleeting. Over Aia Kruse’s marriage to María hovers the black bird of distrust without respite, directly proportional to her certainty, ever more intimate and overwhelming, that she will never be happy. The film by Arregi and Garaño takes the audience without embarrassment, even intentionally, to “The Elephant Man” (1980), by David Lynch, about Joseph Merrick (1862-1890), or to “Marks of Destiny” (1985). by Peter Bogdanovich (1939-2022), about Rocky Dennis (1961-1978), carriers of congenital chromosomal anomalies with almost unpronounceable names. As in Lynch or Bogdanovich, “Handia” is a biographical record that touches on emotions that go beyond the sufferings of the flesh. A film about a lovely ordinary man.

Movie: Handia
Direction: Aitor Arregi and Jon Garaño
Year: 2017
Genres: Drama/War
Note: 8/10

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