Fiction, 2006

In an early episode in Cesc Gay’s thoughtful and slow brewing film, Fiction, married, thirty-something, Barcelona-based filmmaker, Alex (Eduard Fernández), having retreated to the cabin of his globetrotting friend, Santi (Javier Cámara) in the scenic country in order to work on the screenplay for his next film, watches a video from Santi’s recent cowboy adventure with dinner companions, Sílvia (Àgata Roca) and Monica (Montse Germán). In a way, the image of a calf’s birth in the video also foreshadows the figurative birth of Alex and Monica’s romantic awakening. Trying to work out his writer’s block by immersing himself in Santi’s idyllic environment (and perhaps, tapping into his bohemian impulses second-hand), Alex soon realizes that even his usually carefree friend has been re-evaluating his own aimless life in the face of mortality, prompted by Sílvia’s recent health scare. Unable to find motivation in his self-imposed exile to finish his work, Alex decides to return home early, and agrees to join Santi and the others on a final camping trip to the Pyrenees in a show of solidarity for their ailing friend before heading back to the city. However, when Alex and Monica become hopelessly lost after hiking on the wrong mountain on their way back to the base of the trail, the two find themselves drawn even further together by their shared misadventure. Something of a cross between Alain Tanner’s Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 and Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love, Fiction weaves through the uneasy terrain of idealism and desire in its understated portrait of connection and missed opportunity. Similar to the unmotivated, 39 year old protagonist of his latest film, Alex, too, faces a daunting blank page, vacillating between the commercial demands of his profession and integrity of his creative vision, youthful liberation and middle-aged inhibition. Closing to the shot of the unrequited lovers parting to their separate ways on the side of a mountain, the image reflects both the intranscendable distance of their mutual separation and the unresolved nature of their intimacy. And like his unfinished script, their brief encounter, too, remains an unwritten fiction charged with imagined possibility and resigned regret.

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