This finely-tuned Berlinale Golden Bear winner recalls the spirit of Rohrwacher’s The Wonders, showcasing a close-knitted inter-generational Spanish family of peach farmers who face the threat of eviction from their land.
Cast: Jordi Pujol Dolcet, Anna Otin, Xenia Roset
Plot: As far as they can remember, the Solé family have spent every summer picking the peaches from their orchard in Alcarràs, a small village in Spain. But this year’s crop could be their last, as they face eviction.
Awards: Won Golden Bear (Berlinale)
International Sales: MK2
Subject Matter: Moderate – Family; Working-Class; Eviction
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
I think Alcarras is a good film but not a great one, and surely not a work I would have voted to give the Golden Bear to. Still, it is an enviable achievement by Carla Simon, winning the top prize with only her second feature after nabbing the Best First Feature award, also at the Berlinale, with Summer 1993 (2017).
The first thing that came to my mind whilst watching Alcarras was how it reminded me of the spirit of another European film—Alice Rohrwacher’s The Wonders (2014).
In a grounded, down-to-earth style that focuses on the interactions of a close-knitted inter-generational Spanish family of peach farmers, Alcarras is about tradition and survival.
Unfortunately, the family faces the threat of eviction from the land they have lovingly cultivated for decades, as it makes way for the hundreds of solar panels waiting to be installed.
“We’ll all be dazzled by the sun.”
The drama is finely-tuned, and the performances by the ensemble cast are largely compelling. The narrative is also serviceable though its lack of adventure may not impress more discerning viewers.
Still, Simon’s work is quite accessible and should be able to reach a bigger audience than what its arthouse tag might suggest.
Some of the finer parts of Alcarras are when Simon takes the perspective of the children as they eavesdrop on the conversations and arguments among adults, which sometimes may be emotionally or psychologically troubling.
It’s a spirited film, but there are enough silences and introspective moments of solitude to give it pathos. Alcarras also poses an interesting environmental dilemma: should trees be cut down for solar panels to be installed?