Ane (Nagore Aranburu) in Flowers (Music Box Films)
There is a great deal of silence in Flowers, the Basque film that Spain submitted as its selection for Best Foreign Language film for the 88th Academy Awards. It is the type of film in which characters leave so much unspoken, unable to grapple with the grief and pain that consumes their lives. The movie, directed by Jon Garaño and Jose Mari Goenaga, delves into the lives of simple, ordinary people whose lives are touched by a strange occurrence that coincides with personal tragedy.
Nagore Aranburu stars as Ane, a married yet childless woman who receives an early diagnosis of menopause. Her mundane routine is broken when she begins to receive a bouquet of flowers every day, yet has no idea who is sending her the flowers. This causes a rift with her husband, who is suspicious that his wife is suddenly receiving a daily bouquet with no explanation.
Ane’s story begins to coincide with Lourdes (Itziar Ituño), whose own life takes a tragic turn with the death of her spouse. She, too, begins receiving mysterious deliveries of flowers to her husband’s grave site. The question of why these flowers appear and why both Ane and Lourdes begin receiving them gives Flowers a sense of mystery and wonder amidst the depiction of these very ordinary lives, but the directors seem more focused on the emotional state of the characters rather than the unexpected occurrence that makes the story notable.
Garaño and Goenaga elicit strong performances from the cast, in particular Aranburu, who can appear either childlike or weathered, depending on the scene. Ane is quite affecting as the woman facing premature aging who comes to view herself from a different perspective thanks to the unexpected flower deliveries. Beyond Aranburu, each of the cast members give simple, unadorned performances. The performances are somewhat reminiscent of those found in the work by the Dardenne brothers, the Belgian directors who guided Marion Cotillard to a surprise Oscar nomination for Two Days, One Night.
Despite its central mystery, Flowers is a simple film about ordinary people, told in an unfussy manner. This is a film that displays boundless compassion for its characters and the plights that they suffer.
Music Box Films
Available on DVD/VOD March 1
DVDs are rated on a scale of 5 stars (must-see), 4 stars (exceptional), 3 stars (solid), 2 stars (average) and 1 star (unworthy).