Model 77 confirms the bad moment of Spanish cinema. Alberto Rodríguez’s new film is a sketchy, archetypal drama that evokes none of his great works.
Alberto Rodríguez returns to cinema six years after The Man of a Thousand Faces, one of his best films. On this occasion, he brings us a story of prisons in transitional Spain, a period of fetishism for the Sevillian director. This prison drama with shades of thriller ca Model 77, whose title refers directly to the legendary Barcelona prison. Behind its walls we will find a series of characters characteristic of post-Franco Spain.
The premise of Model 77 couldn’t be more interesting. The director of The minimal island directing Miguel Herrán (homeland youth star), Javier Gutiérrez (one of the five best Spanish actors) and Jesús Carroza (luxury high school) in a historical film that brings to the fore the great shames of Spain; in a way, it’s a return to Rodríguez’s masterpiece (changing Jesús Castro for Miguel Herrán). Much to my dismay, the end result could not be more disappointing.
Alberto Rodríguez does not appear to be Alberto Rodríguez. The rage and visual power he exuded The minimal island for all its pores here it becomes indifference and passivity. The images fail to seek permanent accommodation on the viewer’s retina and the stories we live within the Model are not neither interesting nor captivating. In that police thriller set in the swamps of the Guadalquivir, everything was masterful, both the technical sections (Rodríguez repeats the team, but they are all on automatic pilot) and the cast of performers (Miguel Herrán is not Raúl Arévalo). I expected a rabid film that hybridized the worlds of cell 211 and of The minimal islandbut quite the opposite. The world of Model 77 it is barren and empty.
I am saying that Spain is a nation to discover for its cinematography. This idea has been questioned from time to time thanks to great filmmakers who have prepared to unravel the history of our country. Alberto Rodríguez has been one of our best scouts to bring back the Spanish transition, the 1992 expo in Seville or the Paesa case, and that is why it was inevitable to be excited by his approach to the Model. However, this approach in the late 70s fails to silence the viewer. I can’t get enough of this dirty, corrupt and, at the same time, delusional Spain.
As I said before, Miguel Herrán is not Raúl Arévalo. The young performer who won a Goya for A nothing change he does not manage to throw the weight on his back of a film that requires a great interpretation of the protagonist to manage to survive in his emotion. Of course, Herrán is not the only one to blame for this situation, since the script does not accompany a typical character, with a background and uncertain convictions. In this sense, Javier Gutiérrez stands out more, both for his unquestionable figure and for meeting with one more character charismatic, interesting and stimulating. The decompensation is so great that with the passage of minutes it destabilizes the narrative pulse of Model 77.
The secondaries don’t help either. Despite having names like Jesús Carroza, Fernando Tejero or Xavi Sáez in its extensive cast, Model 77 can’t get you to remember them after the credits. We are not facing Julián Villagrán de Group 7 or the Manolo Solo of the minimal island, to understand each other
The Instagram era is affecting our cinema too much. The laws of the border i The kid are a clear example of this trend. Handsome protagonists in roles that do not belong to them. It doesn’t work, either because of interpretative skills or because you directly don’t believe them. In the other hand, the stylization of rawness and pain doesn’t help connect more with the viewerbut quite the opposite. Group 7 is a unique case of how a cute protagonist can be mimed into a complex character with a raw and real world around him. But of course, we are talking about Mario Casas in one of his best jobs.
Model 77 sin of being too innocent in his intentions. We are talking about the years after Franco’s death, not the new century. Drugs, crime and corruption were the usual tonic of Spanish society, and putting them through an Instagram filter doesn’t help anyone. The public will change their perception of the story and the film will lose credibility and seriousness.
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Model 77 not Alberto Rodríguez’s best film. It’s not even in the top three, but we can’t say it’s bad either. Of course, it is disappointing, does not bring freshness to worn-out Spanish cinema and wastes a golden opportunity to capture a unique moment in our country. Our industry should consider whether the path of youth conformity that he has taken to reach his audience is the best to elevate the cinematography. The past teaches us that our best moment was not with an Instagram filter but with rawness and realism. Let’s get back on this path.