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SENTIMENTAL (2020, ŠPA) – 7.5/10

The film by the Catalan Cesca Gay was nominated for the best European comedy of the year, and “Sentimental” or “The People Upstairs” is another in a series of proofs that a good idea is essential for a quality film. Of course, the ability to realize that idea is also important, and following the example of Roman Polanski, who ten years ago filmed the exceptional chamber humor drama “Carnage” about two couples whose action takes place in the same apartment, the situation is identical here as well. The action of the film, which Gay made based on his own theatrical play, takes place in the apartment of Julia (Javier Camara) and Ana (Argentine Griselda Siciliani). From the first moments, it is clear to us that they are not on the best of terms, they just argue, and music professor Julio leads the way in causticness and cynicism.

Ana, on the other hand, invited the new neighbors from the apartment above, the firefighter Salva (Alberto San Juan) and the psychologist Laura (Belen Cuesta), to dinner without his consent, whom Julio can’t stand even though he hasn’t met them. He is especially bothered by the fact that they are so loud and wild while having sex that their whole apartment shakes, and in the moments when Julio begs his wife to call them and cancel the meeting, the doorbell rings and it is too late for that. As soon as Salva and Laura enter their apartment, Julio doesn’t hide that he doesn’t like them, and the only reason why he stayed in their company is to warn them to cut back on the experience during sex. However, it is easy to assume that the story will develop completely differently than Julio planned, and five years after the high-quality humorous drama “Truman” in which the leading Argentinian actor Ricardo Darin appeared alongside Camara, Gay can boast that he has more a successful, well-thought-out and, most importantly, humorous film.

All those who live in buildings are probably familiar with situations when you meet a neighbor at the elevator entrance that you don’t really like, and in fact you’ve never spoken a word to him and you don’t know him at all. This fast-paced and dynamic humorous drama rides quite nicely on these prejudices about people from neighboring apartments in buildings who live next to each other and do not know each other at all. Until one moment when “Sentimental” will go in the direction of teasing at the expense of differences in views on life along with countless uncomfortable situations. And while Salva and Laura are somewhat younger, liberal and completely open, Julio and Ana are a year older, closed and have reached the stage when they get on each other’s nerves terribly, and the only thing that unites them is their common daughter. And constant nagging.

In the end, the evening with the neighbors will have a kind of therapeutic effect on Julia and Ana, and although at first both the characters and the plot may seem like a bunch of clichés thrown on a pile, “Sentimental” turned out to be a fun, humorous and intriguing film. It is a comedy in which it is quite easy to recognize, at least in some situations, and regardless of the fact that the film lasts only 80 minutes, the story is well rounded. This film had five nominations for the Goya, among them the one for the best film, and in the end only San Juan won the award for the best supporting male role, but anyone from the acting ensemble could have been awarded because all four are in a good position form and extremely convincing in their roles.

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