Fiction Cesc Gay

Fiction Cesc Gay
Finally: a film about a well-off white male’s midlife crisis and creative stagnation. Though the Cesc Gay (Nico and Dani) directed and scripted Fiction (Ficció) treads familiar ground (see Wonder Boys and American Beauty), it forgoes common tropes (i.e., pot and undergraduate affairs) in favour of an ingenuous, oft-compelling meditation on love and art that succeeds thanks to a stellar cast, a refreshingly aware take on inconvenient attraction and a Spanish mountain range. Àlex (Eduard Fernández), a 39-year-old filmmaker, heads to the mountains, ostensibly to write his next movie but essentially to flee his wife, children and middle-aged monotony (aka, his real life). There he reconnects with friends Santi (a charmingly rakish Javier Cámara) and Judith (Carme Pla) before meeting the similarly wayward Mònica (played with luminescence by Montse Germán). Little writing ensues. With Mònica’s introduction, the film shifts from The Big Chill-style midlife stock taking to a sylvan anti-romance. Àlex and Mònica toy with a dalliance, constantly aware of, yet unconcerned with, the veneration of nascent love. Rather than writing, the two craft a fiction of their own. It’s that relationship, buoyed by Santi’s homemade videos and Judith’s paintings, from which the film takes its title. The perfectly cast Fernández and Germán announce their affections through furtive glances and playful, childlike nervousness, and it’s a huge credit to the two leads that the In the Mood for Love-evoking tension effectively mirrors the sparse dialogue in its subtlety. Despite a contradictory indulgence at its denouement, Fiction’s unrealised love story is beautifully rendered. Shot and set in the Pyrenees, the scenery is conversely stunning and appositely flawed. Instead of idealising the landscape with sweeping panoramas and sun-drenched scenes, Gay and his director of photography (Andreu Rebés) deftly temper its beauty with a grey palette, near-ubiquitous rain and meddling shots of Fernández’s morose mug. Though Fiction temporarily falters in its third act just as a too apropos deflated hot-air balloon — itself needlessly overt — signals the unwanted arrival of Alex’s real life, the redemptive finale, complete with a well-placed snow globe, voids the intrusion. With nothing more than scene selection, subtitle choices (English and French!) and a title card, the DVD is naked to the point of perversion, though the pastoral tale of art and love, reality and, um, fiction make it a more than compelling watch. (Mongrel Media)