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SURO (2022, ŠPA) – 7.5/10

The best Spanish film shot in 2022 was declared “As bestas”, a combination of drama and thriller by Rodrigo Sorogoyen about a middle-aged couple from France who decided to seek happiness in the rural parts of Galicia, Spain. Everyone who watched that quality film knows that the French were not overly happy in the hills of Spain, and the idea of ​​Mikel Gurrea’s debut film is somewhat similar. Only that in his film “Suro” (which we would translate as cork) it is not foreigners who move to a rural part of Spain, but a young couple from the city who are expecting their first child, and the action does not take place in Galicia, but in Catalonia.

And he recorded Gurre “Suro” in the Catalan language, and the pregnant Elena (Vicky Luengo) and her husband Ivan (Pol Lopez) decided to move to the old property she inherited from her aunt. In the opening scene, we see Elena and Paul passionately dancing together somewhere in a nightclub, but by the end of the film and the final scene, only one of them will be dancing. In the meantime, a lot will happen in this finely thought-out combination of drama and thriller about a young couple who apparently believed that rural life on the old estate would bring them even closer, but something completely opposite will happen. Only marginally, “Suro” is a typical thriller – a drama about the conflict between newcomers and locals, but above all it is a wise character and social study about traditional gender roles, racism, immigration, the relationship between urban and rural.

It is clear from the beginning that Elena is dominant in this relationship, while Ivan is one of those guys who likes to think a lot, to be wise about everything and he is sure that he understands the world around him very well, but reality will dissuade him very quickly. In addition to a large property in rural Catalonia, Elena also inherited a cork oak forest, and the season for collecting the raw material, i.e. the bark of the trees from which cork is produced, is currently underway. A local man, who for years leased the forest from Elena’s aunt and was engaged in this business, again agreed with Elena on terms that seem satisfactory for both parties, but Ivan wants to show himself capable and ready for life in the countryside, so he also decided to join the workers on that not at all simple and rather tangible physical job.

Ivan is one of those typical idealists, a naïve well aware that he lives on a woman’s back and he has that somewhat patronizing desire and feeling that he is constantly trying to do something good. That he understands people’s problems, that he knows what is good for them and how they live, but in fact he does not understand anything. So he will start meddling in the affairs of these people, especially when he realizes that a good part of the workers are illegals from Morocco who work illegally, without any insurance and protection and believing that he is doing good, he will cause quite a bit of chaos. He will cause chaos not only at work, but also at home in his private life, and the desire to show off and to be respected will quickly disappear from his mind.

He shot Gurreau an authentic naturalistic thriller/drama in which he built interesting characters and relationships between them. “Suro” premiered at the festival in San Sebastian, where it won the film critics award, and regardless of the fact that the action takes place in Catalonia and that it was filmed in Catalan, given that Gurrea is Basque (and from San Sebastian), he was awarded this film also for the best Basque film of the festival. Luengo was also nominated for the Spanish actress of the year, Gurre for the debutant of the year, and even though it is a debut film, it is a high-quality production in which the leading roles are equally convincing and professional actors and the rest of the team, who are obviously naturalists.