Julio Medem’s second feature film, “La Ardilla Roja” [Eng. Title: the Red Squirrel] was also my first Medem – it impressed me enough to want to follow his other works from then on. I now have all his feature films on DVD, and one can safely say that I’m not the only one who eagerly looks forward each of his releases. While his most recent film may not be among his masterpieces, he nevertheless remains my favourite Spanish director.
La Ardilla Roja is outwardly a romantic thriller but has several layers in it, which will be revealed by paying attention to detail, or several viewings even. It is a psychological drama, surreal and melodramatic at times, certainly twisted, and also erotic. The film is also an excellent introduction to Julio Medem as it uses symbolism more sparingly than his earlier film Vacas or some of his later works.
Jota is about to throw himself onto the rocks by the sea – his partner of several years had just left him. But he’s forced to postpone the act when a motorcycle crash-lands on the beach below, and he goes down to offer some help. He realises the person on the bike is a woman, who’d temporarily gone into amnesia following the fall. But he had already fallen in love with her ‘blue and tangled’ eyes, and having little to loose, claims at the hospital that he is indeed her fiancé and that they were in the bike together – only he managed to jump off the bike before it hit the railing. He also gives her name as ‘Lisa’ – the name of his ex-girlfriend. When the hospital authorities ask him to bring them her papers for verification, he quietly smuggles her out of the hospital and takes her on a camping trip to a site called, “The Red Squirrel”. As the days progress, ‘Lisa’ and Jota fall in love. But Jota wonders if she’s truly lost her memory, or whether she’s just making it all up – playing a game with him instead. How long will he keep this lie going, and what will he do when he learns who she actually is..?
The screenplay and direction is simply brilliant, beautifully piecing together a mystery as the film reaches its conclusion. There are several ‘Medem’ touches that will be applied more famously in his future films. The soundtrack and editing is just as awesome, and beautiful Emma Suárez who plays the woman, successfully retains an air of mystery throughout the film. This is one of Medem’s early classics, and therefore, Highly Recommended Viewing..!
I’ve reviewed the film from my Julio Medem 6-DVD Box-set
Amazon 6-DVD Box-set