Return to Ithaca
Friday 10th October, 8.45pm – Ciné Lumière
Monday 13th October, 12.30pm – Vue West End, Screen 5
With dialogue orientated, low-key films the difficulty lies in grasping the audience’s collected attention and making them invest their emotion and time into the hopefully three-dimensional characters that are presented to them. Return to Ithaca is a tight-knit drama, set on a Havana rooftop where five old friends are reunited for a night to discuss their past and mull over the decisions they have made in their lives. We ventured down to Covent Garden to catch an early showing of the Spanish drama and see if it had enough substance and intrigue to capture our interest.
The five Cuban amigos are gradually introduced to us through opening nostalgic banter; the scene is set against a gorgeously urban backdrop on top of a grotty family home. We have a failed former alcoholic painter in Rafa, an uninspired writer with writer’s block in Amadeo, a hardworking factory worker with family issues in Aldo, a flashy all style businessman in Eddy, and finally a washed-up bitter mother in Tania. The night is fuelled by alcohol, food and regrets as the dialogue quickly shifts from friendly joking to nerve-cutting accusations and home truths that give the plot a heightened sense of unpredictability.
The performances are brilliantly naturalistic as the conversations effortlessly flow through numerous emotions. Alberto Pujol’s performance stands out in particular as Amadeo, a frustrated writer who has lost his source of inspiration having moved away for a better life in Spain. Each character has their own bitter story to tell as the plot flirts with both joyous nostalgia and melancholic regrets.
Although the strong character-based performances in Return to Ithaca do create a somewhat intriguing film there isn’t really enough in-depth drama to propel it into becoming the memorable piece it could have been.
Return to Ithaca is released in the UK on 10th October 2014.
For further information about the BFI London Film Festival visit here.
Read more reviews from the festival here.