As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me, know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those articles or reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy!
Little Indi is a film that is playing as part of a new series called New Spanish Cinema at the Film Society at Lincoln Center. It tells the tale of a boy named Arnau, nicknamed “Little Indian” for reasons unknown to us (one can assume it’s based on his appearance but it is not confirmed), who is desperately trying to earn himself money to pay a lawyer to assist his mom who is incarcerated.
Most of the quiet, sparsely-dialogued film involves Arnau, played by Marc Soto, looking for extra work, going to a dog track or debating whether to sell his prize-winning goldfinch. He is mostly on his own and in many ways caught between adulthood and childhood. One minute he is pounding the backroads seeking more hours of work anywhere he can find them, but he is tending to a wounded fox the next.
The scoring of this film is very distinctive and it never overpowers or sentimentalizes anything but it does help push the story about and also keeps the correct middling tone. A tone believed to be desired because there is little seen of this incarcerated mother, she is seen briefly and it is understood. It is in essence a very observational film. It’s a window into a world.
There are many hurdles and many disappointments which take this film to its conclusion. The ending is open so divulging too many plot details would allow one to know exactly how it stays open.
It is a film that ultimately stays visual so bear with it and eventually you will understand what competition he enters the finch into and to an extent what the judging criteria is. Other things within the film which might also seem foreign but eventually do come to make sense.
Marc Soto is described in the writings accompanying this film as a newcomer, however, the pedigree of a film actor can be gauged more so when they say nothing than when they speak and Soto’s pedigree seems to belie his experience. Words are the domain of the theatre actor; a film actor has to be able to hold our interest in quiet moments of which this film has many. Will we watch him behave and not just speak? Yes. Do you see him thinking? For as much interaction as Soto has yes there is definitely potential for a new star of Spanish cinema to have been born in this part.
When minimalism in a minimal environment occurs it can be much easier to accept. When minimalism occurs in an urban/suburban environment, as it does in this film, it is asking for a bit more patience from its audience. Does the film reward the audience for its patience? Ultimately, I believe that answer to be yes. It’s not a tremendous reward but it is also not a shortchanging experience. It is the type of film that may even go up a rating point or two upon a second viewing as you examine how it works but it does involve you in the avenues that Arnau investigates to try and earn more money and also involves you in how he tries to go about rectifying his missteps.
Also, if you are a fan of Spanish cinema you might recognize the cameo by Agustí Villaronga, director of such disturbing thrillers as El Mar and In A Glass Cage, as the mysterious The Man in White Shoes. Ultimately, it is an enjoyable film that this critic will want to re-examine.