Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Javier Camara, Natalia de Molina
Francesc Colomer

This delightful film was the official submission of Spain to the Best Foreign Language Film category for the 87th Academy Awards (2015). It is based on a true story set in 1966 about a Beatles obsessed English teacher named Antonio (Javier Camara) upon learning that John Lennon is in Almeria (Spain) to shoot a movie, decides to go on a road trip to meet his idol. 

En route, he picks up two people who are hitchhiking - Belen, a pregnant young woman escaping from a halfway home for unwed mothers and Juanjo, a teenager who runs away from home to avoid his authoritarian father who insists he get a haircut. The three strangers form a unlikely friendship as they embark on this journey of self discovery.

The main draw of the narrative is naturally Antonio, the English teacher who instructs his students by using lyrics of the Beatles' songs. He is insightful yet comical and quite an endearing character. Yet he is also hugely aware of the repressive political system ran at that time by the dictator Franco and does have very negative views about the Fascist regime.

The crux of the story unfolds once they reach the coastal town of Almeria where the set of Lennon's film is heavily guarded by local authorities. How Antonio handles the pitfalls that stand in his way to get to Lennon clearly forms the arc of this character. Naturally it wasn't going to be that easy, right? 

Javier Camara's brilliant performance is the heart and soul of this engaging tale. A main staple in several Spanish films, he is able yet again to transform himself into every role he incarnates, flawlessly. As Antonio, he strikes a sad, lonely figure who is fully aware of what he wants in life and won't let other people nor obstacles stand in his way. 

The gorgeous setting of the Spanish coastline as well as the simplicity of the town where strawberries grow in dusty fields provide excellent background to the feature that highlights a coming of age narrative as well as the plight of finding one's place in the world. The self discovery of staying true to yourself while the world evolves around its axis is the main thrust of this comical yet poignantly profound movie. 

Towards the satisfying ending, I like how they were able to incorporate into the story the birth of the song "Strawberry Fields Forever" which Lennon reportedly wrote in Almeria during the shooting of Richard Lester's How I Won The War. In case you were wondering where the title fits in. Well here is an excerpt from the song's lyrics:
Let me take you down
Cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever
Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you see
It's getting hard to be someone
But it all works out
It doesn't matter much to me

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