out of Five
Running time: 78
This occasionally eccentric Spanish film about two brothers who meet on the day of their estranged father’s funeral is often amusing but its stunted running time and neglected central message lets it down.
What’s it all about?
Written, directed and narrated by Jonathan Cenzual Burley, The Soul of Flies stars Andrea Calabrese as Nero and Javier Saez as Miguel, two half brothers who never their father or of each other. Meeting at a deserted train station to find it closed, the conflicting characters (Nero is a soulful optimist and Miguel, a straight faced realist) are forced to find an alternative way to travel to the funeral, embarking on an epic and spiritual journey across rural Spain and getting to know each other and various other surreal characters along the way.
Accompanied by a lively Spanish-guitar heavy score, The Soul of Flies is incredibly tantalising at times with some delightfully memorable and laugh-out-loud scenes, mostly involving the supporting characters, who provide most of the film’s enchantment. A stand-out player is a narcoleptic, who falls asleep so often he has become accustomed to walking around in his pyjamas and whom the brothers find midway through a suicide attempt (fortunately, he falls asleep before he can do any real harm).
Told in chaptered format and set in the scolded and deserted terrains of Spain, The Soul of Flies is watchable with fine cinematography and a satisfactory script and direction.
At a paltry seventy eight minutes long, the film is a viewing experience that zooms by like an annoying housefly, never quite giving you the satisfaction of capturing it. Ultimately, there are very few surprises and it is not quite as poignant as it should be with some of its jokes falling flat (though, perhaps it was a little lost during translation). Also, for such devout and life-changing events, director Jonathan Cenzual Burley should have definitely given more attention to the film’s emotive aspects as the raw central storyline is abandoned somewhere along the way. Nevertheless, it has to be handed to Burley, who remarkably in his directorial debut, produced this film on a practically zero-budget and edited it himself at home.
With its few surprises and stunted running time, The Soul of Flies is not quite up to scratch but its occasional laugh-out-loud scenes and hilarious supporting characters mean it’s still an enjoyable way to spend seventy eight minutes.