A strong message of reconciliation, peace and forgiveness is at the heart of this poignant and touching drama based on real people and events that took place not so long ago in the Basque Country. As soon as the Basque Country is mentioned, it is easy to assume that the focus could be on the separatist organization there. ETA, and among the 829 people who, according to official figures, killed its members between 1968 and 2010 when they disarmed, was Basque politician Juan Maria Jauregi. At the end of July 2000, three members ETAThey broke into a restaurant in Toledo where Jauregi was and shot him several times in the head. Four years later, the three terrorists were convicted, and Maixabel, the wife of a slain politician who advocated for peace and dialogue, has meanwhile become director of the Basque office for victims of terror.
The years go by, and two of the three members ETAwho assassinated Maixabella’s (Blanca Portillo) husband, Luis (Urko Olazabal) and Ibon (Luis Tosar) decided to renounce violence and distance themselves from the organization. As a result, after several years of strict imprisonment, they were transferred to a milder prison, and 11 years after the assassination, a program to confront the killers with members of the victims’ families will be launched. It turns out that Maixabel will be the first to agree to participate in this program and face first one and then another man who assassinated her husband.
“Maixabel” was probably the best film ever made by Iciar Bollain, a Spaniard who entered cinema as an actress in the late 1980s and then switched completely to writing and directing. And she has already won national Goya awards for best director and screenwriter, and in both categories she was nominated for this film. An emotional drama about an unimaginable tragedy that many went through decades of terror in this Spanish province, and “Maixabel” is a film that brilliantly shows how in that relentless fight no one actually won and everyone was a loser. And people whose family members and members were killed for completely insane reasons ETA-e like Ibon who only later, in prison, realized what they were doing and how the way they fought was completely wrong.
She filmed Bollain a smart, deep and complex drama in which we see the reasons why so many mostly young people once joined ETA. So Ibon tells how as a young man he had the idea of a just revolution and the struggle for freedom that completely blinded him, and only later did he realize what it really was. While he was carrying out assassinations on orders, he says, he did not even know who they were and did not bother much whether these moves were justified, but the ETA leadership made such a decision and there was nothing more to ask. And all these people like Ibon, once they have decided to give up violence and repent for what they did, for ETA they will automatically become traitors. Automatically, all those people who have chosen to renounce violence will become traitors to most average people who continue to silently support the separatist organization.
There is nothing black and white here and it is a film with which we can perfectly understand what life in mortal fear looked like in all those Basque cities throughout that time. We see people who can already foresee what happened when they see someone familiar approaching them with a petrified expression on their face as Maixabel’s daughter Maria (Maria Cerezuela) will foresee what happened when she sees her aunt from afar after her father’s assassination. Just like the recent “Patria” series, “Maixabel” is a film that impressively portrays all the disaster brought about by that decades-long civil war in the Basque Country and how people lived all that time. We also see what kind of trauma is deeply ingrained in all of them, no matter which side they were on and lost a family member or not. He eventually had “Maixabel” as many as 14 nominations for the Goya Award, and was eventually confirmed by Portillo for lead female, Olazabal for supporting male role and Cerezuela for best new actress. Rating 9/10.
MORE MOVIE REVIEWS: OUTLAWS / LAS LEYES DE LA FRONTERA (2021, ESP) Movie review, plot, trailer