Set in Alcarras, Catalonia this Spanish-Italian drama surrounds a family whose livelihood of operating a peach orchard is soon to end as they have no papers to prove they own the land.
As one of the characters explained, “people didn’t sign contracts in the old days, it was all verbal.” The intention is to replace the orchards with solar panels as it’s less work and far more profitable.
At a running time of 2 hours this film lacks substance and there’s little story development which would under normal circumstances downgrade a film. In this instance the success of Alcarras lies in the actual images utilized which are mandatory in the storytelling process.
Long panoramic shots of the scenic surroundings, the family working the land and also enjoying the community events say more than a thousand words. The irrelevant conversations over dinner are difficult to watch, as the pretense is that their world of peach farming is not crumbling around them.
Non-professional actors were hired to participate in this film which mostly feels unscripted, ultimately adding realism to the story. The cameras follow the characters around as they perform their day-to-day activities seemingly with little direction.
Aptly described as a tribute to families who work hard and fruitlessly on the land, this film also delves into the government’s desire to end small farming and create and control large and more profitable businesses.
Alcarras is exhausting to watch and may prove to be a testing cinematic experience for unsuspecting audiences, as it’s a film that would more suitably screen in film festivals.