There is a almost perfect simplicity to Carla Simón’s Alcarràs, a film that makes a promise in its opening moments and never detours or dodges its inevitable conclusion. It’s in this self assured storytelling that writers Arnau Vilaró and Simón manage to tell a story of family that feels both unique to this one family and universal in its smaller moments. Oddly timeless, feeling both relevant to todays economic climate while also carrying with it a feeling of nostalgia for a simpler life, Alcarràs is a feel good film about uncertainty and family cohesion through times of struggle and a thoroughly entertaining one at that.
Telling the story of a family of peach farmers in a small Catalonian community who are forced with eviction from their land at the end of the harvest season, Alcarràs follows the ins and outs of a family trying to make the most of their last summer and whether or not to keep their land they should agree to an offer to maintain more profitable solar panels to ensure that the family can stay together, all while trying to complete the final harvest with a sense of pride.
Basking in the Spanish sun, three generations come to terms over the summer with their impending upheaval as the young children try to find the perfect summer hideout only for it to be taken away, the teenagers trying to do something as normal as take part in a community talent show while their parents fight over the future. It’s all done with some naturalistic performances and attention to detail as Simón bases most of her indelible moments around times of harvest as arguments or moments of joy end up with the whole family picking fruit and coming together regardless.
Simón here has made a film about combatting the fear that comes from the uncertainty of the future and the slow destruction of a legacy owned by a whole family with a wonderfully realised community of actors. Never letting the politics of her film overpower the simple imagery or subtle storytelling, Alcarràs is a relevant movie for today but one that will stick with you more thanks to the power of its strong visual style, with a final frame that, despite being expected is still utterly crushing. However it also houses small glimmers of a future that might not be as dark as previously thought, thanks to the family connections built here.