A quote from Roberto Bolaño’s novel Amulet (about the violent nature of a quiet story) appears as we watch a flowing river. A conspicuous finger traces routes on a world atlas, maps and travel guides. It clearly belongs to a woman. She is wearing two watches, one digital, one self-winding. They both show the same time. The finger roams over different parts of the Iberian Peninsula. It lingers above Madrid, San Sebastián and Oporto. It crosses the Atlantic and reaches Mar del Plata and Viña del Mar (in Argentina and Chile, respectively). Cora (Lola Dueñas) moves inside a room inside her apartment. These actions are gentle, hypnotic, however they do not follow a pattern. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. This is how Iriarte prepares viewers for this cruel yet tender tale of a stolen baby.
The movie is divided into three episodes and an epilogue. In the first part, Cora desperately scrambles for information about her missing child. She works as a court reporter, and is prepared to blackmail judges and officials. For years, she was lied about her son’s whereabouts (maybe he never even existed?). In the second part, foster mother Vera (Ana Torrent) receives a wake-up call. She is a piano teacher gradually finding out how the system tricked her into believing that the adoption process was entirely regular. A letter to young piano teacher and swordsman Egoz (Manuel Egozkue) reveals the identity of his biological mother. In the third part, our characters cross paths by the riverside. Someone exacts revenge.
Ultimately, Victor Iriarte’s debut feature is a sorority fable about the passing of time, unspoken brutality, and the serving of justice after an extended period of lies and oppression . The director looks at geography, volume and space through a very unconventional prism, and with a rather austere touch. He deftly uses classical music and silence in order to convey a range of emotions. The elaborate script was penned by Iriarte and two women, Isa Campo and Andrea Queralt. The filmmaker and the scribes offer redemption to the three protagonists in Bressonian style, as well as a lesson of dignity.
Foremost by Night showed at 68th Valladolid International Cinema Week. It showed previously at Venice Days, and also at the BFI London Film Festival.