Director Icíar Bollaín’s 2016 drama grabs your heart and shakes it by its frail shoulders.
Simply put, El Olívo’ is about a granddaughter’s love for her grandfather. It is a reminder that modern materialism keeps us in shackles, and that we must try to get to the heart of the world’s magic by recalling our past, our history, our childhood. I whisper this to myself, when I can get away from the haze of busy city life and back into my childhood bed don’t forget, don’t forget, don’t forget.
I felt close to this film, as one does when one is accepted naturally and seemingly without cause into a family’s problems. Familial disputes, honest and bravely awkward, give one the impression of shadowy invisibility in the humble kitchen. The flashbacks are so well done that I believe anyone close to their grandparents would have difficulty avoiding that twinge.
This is an anti-materialistic film that does not depend on fancy lighting, huge budgets; that doesn’t sell itself out by conforming to cliché (however desirable this may seem). Finally, finally something about what’s inside of our hearts and heads, instead of where we shop, what political parties we associate ourselves with, what we look like outside. It is a modern fairy-tale through the lens of arid snapshots: arid snapshots, it seems, there is no visual attempt to create something that is not there – the hoards of monsters, birds, and biblical trees lies underneath, awaiting for imagination to make what it will of them. Such undercurrents challenge the viewer: it doesn’t show us certain things but rather allows us to think about them, for example, that delicate olive branch growing at super-speed across millennia and ending up bigger, better, even more monstrous than its mother.
It is a film not only about what it means to have an heirloom, but about what it means to have honor. Watch it, you won’t forget it.