Fire Will Come movie review & film summary (2020)

The inner lives of Amador and his fellow human protagonists are often reduced to postage-stamp abstraction since their lives are understandably overshadowed by Galicia’s frequent (and often man-made) wildfires. “Fire Will Come” begins with a Vivaldi-scored, dialogue-free scene, as a trio of construction vehicles—we never see their drivers clearly—push through some Eucalyptus trees. Branches and limbs snap—in chilling detail thanks to the movie’s dense sound design—and fall out of view; virtually nothing can be seen beyond the bulldozers’ high-beams. This is the nightmarish reality that Amador returns to after jail: the surrounding land is so impenetrable that you, like the trucks’ drivers (who do they work for?), must commit to pressing on.

Amador’s story is unfortunately never as emotionally arresting or complex as this opening scene. His neighbors talk about him with casual indifference, and even Elena (Elena Mar Fernández), a local vet and potential romantic interest, either doesn’t really know or care to find out what’s going on with Amador. She asks why she hasn’t seen him around before, so he says, “I was away.” “Abroad?” “Yes.” There’s some tenderness in the silence that follows, and it’s as bittersweet as it is definitive. Amador and Elena also listen to Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” together in her car. She asks him for his opinion, and he confesses that, “I like how it sounds, but I don’t know what it says.” She encourages him, but from a stifling emotional remove: “No need to understand the lyrics to get the music.” Arias smiles modestly, but an unruly lock of his hair speaks for his character.

This is the same sort of benign, socially maintained distance that separates Amador from Benedicta, who not-so-secretly asks estranged construction worker Inazio (Inazio Abrao) to hire her son. But when Inazio offers Amador work, he inadvertently reveals Benedicta’s involvement: “When are you coming over? We’ll be working on the house all summer.” Amador takes Inazio’s unexpected offer in stride, but Laxe doesn’t seem as interested in his lead protagonist as he is by Benedicta, in her car’s passenger seat, studiously avoiding eye contact with her son. This is a low-stakes conversation, but it feels tense because we, like Benedicta, have no idea how Amador will respond to Inazio. He takes the job, by the way, and before his mother can ask him, “What did Inazio do to you? Are you mad at him because he didn’t visit you?” Not really, and if he was, who but Amador would know?

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