In Catalonian Alcarràs, a large family of fruit farmers is forced to shut down their peach plantation after the summer’s harvest; the land is being repurposed to install solar panels. They are welcome to stay and make the switch, the landowner offers, but patriarch Qumet Solé tells him that he is too old to learn a new trade. The grandmother recounts a story of a rich woman brought to her knees, humbled by how she is received by those she mistreated when she was on top. Remembering what their family did for the landowners during the Spanish Civil War, until their dying breath, the Solés hope to be spared and pray for a miracle.
Director Carla Simón’s second feature is a small-scale drama, in which fictitious conflict is kept to a minimum. As in any family, relationships are complex: there is the occasional quarrel, there are differing opinions. But the focus of this Spanish-Italian production lies on the Solés’ struggle against the developments that make their previous livelihood unsustainable. The prevailing sentiment is existential dread.
Throughout the film, the story is layered with the youngest generation’s social play. The children watch what the adults around them are doing and recreate their behaviour playfully, complete with endearing logical fallacies. For instance, Iris, the little girl, rubs juicy peach halves over the walls of their den, in hopes of turning them peach-coloured.
Comprised of non-professional actors, the cast is exceptionally textured. It is clear to the audience that they don’t see a semblance of farm work, rather they are witnessing real people, who in fact have experience living off of land. When Qumet accidentally knocks over a full crate of peaches, the viewer not only relates to his desperation, they too bemoan the perfectly ripe fruit going to waste.
Alcarràs is released in select cinemas on 6th January 2023.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Alcarràs here: