Lluis Minarro is a legendary film producer in his native Spain, and this is his first feature as director (he also co-wrote the screenplay). It’s a fantastic achievement, and one of the most surreal, joyous, blackly comic and beautiful to look at historical biopics you’re ever likely to see. Yes, it has a slow moving arthouse tone and there’s a lot of contemplative silence between the words, but it’s such a gorgeously idiosyncratic piece of cinema that even the silences are captivating. Minarro and his cinematographer Jimmy Gimferrer are visual magicians, with each shot composed and lit like a painting, indulging in the rich chiaroscuro of the costumes and set design, taking full advantage of the ever-present Spanish sunlight. But one of the most delightful elements of Stella Cadente lies in Minarro’s genius use of music, especially during a wonderful interlude in the second Act which is guaranteed to put a smile on even the most jaded viewer’s face (you’ll know it when you see it). It’s this kind of savvy but expertly timed irreverence that makes the film such a magnificently unexpected surprise and will make you wish you’d had the opportunity to watch it on a big screen. Highly recommended – this has to be a very late contender for one of the most enjoyable DVD releases of 2016.
STELLA CADENTE / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: LLUÍS MIÑARRO / SCREENPLAY: LLUÍS MIÑARRO, SERGE BELBEL / STARRING: ALEX BRENDEMÜHL, BÁRBARA LENNIE, LORENZO BALDUCCI / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW