Sunday, October 14, 2012

(18 MEALS)

11th Spanish Film Festival
Greenbelt 3, Cinema 2

As the title suggests, this Spanish film uses food as a focal point to connect the characters' tales. An interwoven vignette of different stories with characters who lead mildly interesting lives.

It starts with a voice over narration which states every meal is an opportunity to change the flavor of life.  I believe the use of voice over narration in films is quite helpful.  It guides the viewers in the development of the characters as they weave through the plot.  So I'm baffled why the director chose to use this technique merely in the beginning of the film, then abandoned it for the rest of the film.

I admit I expected more lingering shots on the sumptuous food so in that aspect it was a bit of a disappointment. But the real theme is how a meal is an opportunity for human interaction between the myriad of characters who go through break ups, special occasions, self awareness and life altering moments.

It is presented through three acts which are divided into meal times - breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each piece is well edited and paced neatly as it all unfolds in one single day.

Set in the picturesque town of Santiago de Compostela with its massive Cathedral as the backdrop, the film offers a smorgasbord of lighthearted situations with different topics dominating each snippet. Some are given more emphasis while others are too short to create any significant impact on the overall storyline of the film.

The main characters are realistically portrayed by an ensemble cast. They’re charming, funny, sad and endearingly flawed - all battling their own demons. They go through many emotions as they travel towards the path to self redemption.  Each character ending up where they are meant to be, either by choice or by force.

18 Comidas is a predictably good Spanish film that could have used more food scenes to its advantage. But I realize it isn't a movie about food but rather how life is like a buffet table filled with different dishes. There are some dishes which you like, others which you rather not eat but either way, you need to feed yourself to avoid hunger.

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