Flowers (Loreak): Review: A Melancholy Flavor of Despair

Life and death are such fragile things. People are with you, and then they are suddenly gone. Many movies have tried to explore the concept of death to varying degrees of quality. Directors Jon Garano and Jose Mari Goenaga’s Flowers (Loreak, 2014) isn’t really necessarily about death, as much as it is about how the consequences of death. Death can, as in this case, bring people, who don’t necessarily like each other, together.
The film, which is a Spanish movie, spoken in Basque, tells the story of a woman named Ane (played by Nagore Aranburu), a woman in her forties who does not feel fulfilled. Her life changes when she starts to anonymously receive a bouquet of flowers at her home. In addition, the lives of two other people, Lourdes (played by Itziar Ituño) and Tere (played by Itziar Aizpuru) are being affected after Lourdes loses her husband, Benet, in a car crash, and someone mysteriously keeps planting flowers next to his grave.
Flowers is a very low-key film. It opens with random shots, all of which eventually play into the story: a woman (not likely Lourdes) walks next to a flower; Lourdes is shown sitting; Lourdes is on the bus; shots of sheep; shots of construction workers working; and then, finally, a shot of Lourdes arriving at her house to meet Benet. All of these shots in some way relate back to the film. Lourdes works at the construction site, she’s shown going on the train all the time, and even sheep play a role into the film, as they’re being watched from to the construction site. It’s very adventurous and smart of the filmmakers to introduce so many of the major elements in the film within the first five minutes. This really sets you up for the film. So, when Lourdes’s husband dies, the movies gets suddenly quite serious.
Much of the film is building up the relationship between Lourdes and her mother-in-law, Tere, with whom she doesn’t get along with. Their relationship changes after Benet’s passing and they learn to respect each other. Despite the fact that the characters seem like they are at each other’s throats half of the time, their relationship really works. Both of the actresses do good jobs playing off each other, and it does portray the typical, dysfunctional, “in-laws” dynamics, common in marriages.
There are other characters in the film. Lourdes is a divorcee, who has a son named Michel, and she gets into a relationship with a man named Ander after Benet’s passing. Both of these characters the son and the boyfriend, seem to be afterthoughts, and among the film’s weaker elements. Heck, Ane, the woman who received anonymous flowers, doesn’t appear initially to be really important to the plot, despite having been shown in smaller scenes.
The directing of this film is probably it’s best aspect. Garano and Goenaga do a splendid job of making the movie feel special and unique. There’s an entire montage sequence where we see the flower evolve, change, as the different days go by. It is so well-edited, it had to have been made by filmmakers who are highly skilled at their craft. There are recurring shots of people climbing the cranes at work, and the sheep are brilliantly used in the film, as they are rarely shown, and usually to situations where the characters reveal something of themselves. The film itself, like a lot of Foreign Language movies, has several scenes without any dialogue, which creates an interesting atmosphere.
The musical score, while not often used, is very relaxing and tender. One scene that really shows this is when Ane is walking and puts flowers next to a tribute for Benet, that already has loads of them, as it is. The music in that particular scene, creates feeling and mood, for what could have otherwise been an ordinary moment in the film.
The flowers in Flowers, go back to the death aspect, as they seem to represent the pain and death of Benet, as well as being Lourdes and Ane’s own personal escape from the misery they’ve just been through. Death is a very touchy subject, and both women are trying to get through it, in the best possible way they can. It’s a very nice metaphor, and it really fits the depressing tone of the film.
Flowers isn’t a terrific film, but if you’re into Foreign Language Spanish films that take their time, and really build up some good character dynamics, as well as featuring some interesting and great directing, I’d definitely recommend checking it out.

2 thoughts on “Flowers (Loreak): Review: A Melancholy Flavor of Despair

  1. Okay, Dan, excuse me here for writing a review of your review:
    Excellent opening … the first two sentences. You open with a generalization that gives us the mood of the film. Sometimes that’s much better than starting right in on the plot summary.

    Excellent details … the list of shots & their importance to the film. Your comments on the soundtrack.

    My personal preference: avoid spoilers as much as possible. For instance, “after Lourdes loses her husband, Benet, in a car crash, and someone mysteriously keeps planting flowers next to his grave” could be “after flowers mysteriously appear on a grave Lourdes visits” or something like that. Let the reader discover the plot when he/she sees the flick.

    I suggest that “special” and “unique” and “interesting” are words that don’t tell the reader much. I suggest you use more specific words, as you do elsewhere: “low-key” … “fragile” … “melancholy”… “adventurous”

    Here’s some free advice: every Friday, buy the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times and read their movie reviews. Look at the words they use. See how they reveal the plot. Too much? Too little? What background do they give on the director / actors /cinematogaphers?

    Cut your reviews into paragraphs. There should be 3 or 4 in this review. The reader can follow more easily if you indicate where one topic ends and another begins.

    Keep on rockin!

    Don …

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