That a story as big as the one that Mediterráneo tells —the genesis of the NGO Open Arms, so present in the social activism of the last five years, together with the beginnings of the migratory crisis of 2015 in Europe, with the Greek island of Lesbos as the center of the tragedy—, ended up becoming stronger in a much smaller board, that of its small stories of conquering personal territory, it is still a virtue. Dominate the world from the individual; achieve justice from the concrete gesture of the human being; and emotion, from the struggle with oneself and the encounter with their place in existence. This is Marcel Barrena’s film, the big surprise in the shortlist of Spanish candidates for the Oscar for best international film.
Anyway, the virtues of Mediterráneo would shine much less without the work of their small group of interpreters: Dani Rovira, Sergi López and Anna Castillo, with the imposing Eduard Fernández at the helm, overwhelming personality, and the support of Àlex Monner, Patricia López Arnaiz and the punctual Greek interpreters. All perfect. Filmed just inches from Barrena, each creature displays its inner and outer scars with the truth of feeling. Every phrase, every reaction, every look, is that of a human being ready for something truly unique. With this, the slips of the film, which have them, are much more blurred.
Auger rolls at ground level and, above all, at water level. The sequences of rescue at sea, the drowning and the fear of the migrants have credibility. But the place where his story moves best is that of the individual decisions of its protagonists, in their discussions, in their jokes, in their terrors. Thus, excessively melodramatic details are forgiven (the plot of the doctor’s daughter and her Barça shirt from the seventies), or the occasional appearance of the thick line (the crude portrait of the mechanic of the 3. 000 euros and its final express redemption). Because, despite everything, Barrena, a specialist in overcoming stories, has assessed the perhaps excessive load of sentimentality of 100 meters, his previous length. He does it, once again, with a story from today; with the vertigo of action and, even more, with the vertigo of conversation.
Direction: Marcel Barrena.
Interpreters: Eduard Fernández, Dani Rovira, Anna Castillo, Sergi López.
Genre: drama. Spain, 2021.
Duration: 110 minutes.