Weekly Watch: ‘Puzzled Love’
Erin McAuliffe | Sunday, February 22, 2015
February is a month when many contemplate getting out of South Bend, as such, this Weekly Watch is fitting.
“Puzzled Love,” a Spanish film released in 2010 that is available on Netflix and Amazon Prime, follows the love story of an American and a Spanish student as they study abroad in Barcelona.
The basis of the plot will be especially appealing to all those who were just accepted into study abroad programs for next year or are longing for their days on the beach or in the arms of their foreign lover.
The movie starts out with Sun (Saras Gil) and Lucas (Marcel Borrás) saying goodbye at the airport as Sun prepares to return to Chicago, a classic example of “in medias res” styling. There is a countdown that hits zero and then sends the film into rewind, backing the relationship to August with 11 months, 30 days, 12 hours, three minutes and 22 seconds to go.
The film plays out in this format, a “500 Days of Summer”-esque series of flashbacks. However, the story starts with the drama and ends in love, following a month-by-month sequence of snapshots portraying the pivotal events in their relationship.
This format and the basis of the story, a love story abroad with a ticket home dated for a year later, emphasize the importance of time on Sun and Lucas’ relationship.
Their time in Barcelona, and therefore their time together, is limited by this inevitable departure.
There are stutter shots, loud music and long periods of silence surrounding any scene or conversation that implies or addresses the impending end, adding to the anxiety and awkwardness of the aspect.
Towards the end, Sun and Lucas can’t avoid the prospect of time any longer, and almost every conversation centers around it, with Sun wanting to end things before it’s too late and Lucas hoping to live life to its fullest, avoiding conflict until absolutely necessary.
The separation of the film into months is also inherent in how the film was shot: by 13 different recent film grads in Spain. Therefore, although there are overarching cinematographic aspects and Gil’s and Borrás’ strong performances work to unify the film, the viewer is able to experience the relationship through the eyes of 13 different viewpoints, each highlighting different aspects of the characters and their flaws. Each director wrote and shot a piece of the puzzle, hence the title. There were few restrictions besides a basic narrative, allowing each director to add his or her own style and personality to the film.
This approach also parallels the steps a relationship takes from beginning to end, an evolution that encompasses changing surroundings, events and personalities. Allowing each snapshot of the relationship to be directed by different people creates a more believable love story through variations in what aspects take precedence at each stage in the relationship.
This style of filming makes the cohesiveness of the piece even more impressive. The whole film takes the form of a complete circle, starting at the top and rewinding 360 degrees. This style, although formulaic and cliché in some instances, works to unite the separate works into a believable, true-to-form relationship.