We were big fans of Marshland here at BS Towers so when I misread the synopsis for Raúl Arévalo’s The Fury of a Patient Man, I was convinced he’d directed both. He hasn’t, obviously. This marks his debut to directing having starred in Marshland but I’ve very glad I made the mistake because his debut is an absolute gem.
Very much in the Blue Ruin mould, this one finds Antonio de la Torre’s José eeking out an understated existence, occasionally playing cards with some locals in the bar and giving slightly strange looks to Ana (Ruth Díaz). It turns out that Ana’s ex Curro has been banged up for eight years for being the only one unlucky enough to be caught during a botched jewellery shop raid (he was the getaway driver). As the movie builds, Curro is released from prison and, surprisingly isn’t a very nice guy. Days before his release, José has slept with Ana and their whimsical plans of retreating to his house in the countryside are soon shown to be completely unrealistic as Curro reenters the scene. So far so formulaic but that’s where that ends and the real movie begins.
To reveal any more details would do a huge disservice to this excellent thriller. Suffice to say, it’s not long before a good number of stereotypes are thoroughly bounced on their heads as Arévalo’s movie patiently reveals its hand and then proceeds to smash you about the face with it.
Understated cinematography coupled with muted colours perfectly match the slow build and with excellent performances from the three central actors (Luis Callejo rounds off the three as Curro), this is a movie that horrifies on so many levels. As things unfold we’re forced to wonder just whose side we’re on as the central plot lays out a number of opportunities for things to go in very different directions. Arévalo refuses to take a side though and we’re left reeling with the actions as the credits roll.
Patient (I’m obviously overusing that word deliberately), deliberate, well written, with some truly shocking outbursts of violence, this is a stunningly assured debut from an actor and one that I really hope will find an audience in the UK.