We witness the story of his tormenting passion in his efforts to win her love.
"We idiots can only have faith, hope, and charity. And a little love because it’s free".
Pere-Lluc has a certain tendency to reflect upon his personal situation with irony and scepticism, though tinged with (sometimes black) humor; his actions are chaotic, excessive, out of control: the result of the crisis he is going through.
"My life constitues a long and profitable journey toward idiocy. One day, during my adolescence, I realized that I was an idiot. Some years later, I discovered that I wasn’t the only one. Now that I’m coming up on thirty-five I’m convinced not only that we are all idiots, but also that we never stop being idiots."
One night, heading home drunk, hits his head on the aluminum ladder a girl is using to hang banners from the streetlights. He falls to the ground and, slightly dazed, is mesmerized by the girl. As the days go by, he becomes more and more obsessed with her. She tortures him! We witness the story of his tormenting passion in his efforts to win her love.
"We idiots can only have faith, hope, and charity. And a little love because it’s free.
ABOUT AMOR IDIOTA (IDIOT LOVE)
I came to Amor idiota (Idiot love) for many different reasons. One of them, perhaps, is that Anita no perd el tren (Anita takes a chance) worked really well, both artistically and commercially in all the countries where it was shown, which was quite a substantial number, and I was really keen to work again with the same creator of fables. And so I continued to read Lluís-Antón Baulenas, immersing myself in his universe, until I came upon his latest novel, Amor d’idiota. Baulenas had shown me this story many years before, in a different version and with a different title, but with the same germ of an idea behind the story. He went on working on it and then I read it again in a new guise. Once more, it seemed to me to be unfinished, but very attractive. He then rewrote the story and it acquired the shape of the finished novel. This time when I read it I thought that the story was a very powerful one, but at the same time, very difficult to adapt for the cinema. But after reading and rereading the text, and allowing myself time to think and to turn the story over in my mind, it seemed to me that I had finally found the structure of the narrative, the concept I needed in order to undertake the adaptation. It’s always the same; if you haven’t grasped the concept, you can’t explain the story.
I was particularly attracted by the way in which the characters were portrayed as confronting, in their own very particular way, a universal theme, our need for the other. At the same time it also dealt with other secondary themes which offered equally rich, exciting veins to explore, and which are also present in almost all my films, such as friendship and death... And thus I find myself once more coming back to my favourite theme, but this time presented in an obsessive, angst-ridden, perhaps morbid way, as befits the personality of the leading character in the story.
Pere-Lluc is desperate to get together with Sandra while at the same time trying to overcome the emptiness of his everyday life and to come to terms with the sudden death of a friend. For me, this character represents the disorientation of modern man. He has reached the age, thirty-something, when one becomes aware of just how empty life can be, and to what extent we have to find comfort in those little things that make us happy, much more so than relying on the ‘big ideas’ or the hope of fulfilling our dreams. One comes to realise that while it’s not true that life is a mere trifle, living has got a lot to do with finding sense within your own small world, in the little everyday things. He draws strength from his hopes of being with Sandra, the woman he loves. But at the same time, he has to deal, unexpectedly, with the death of his friend. Perhaps it’s got to do with the fact that I have reached that certain age, and I have lost some very close friends, as happens to the main character. These are realities that hurt and when you find yourself weighed down with all this emotion, you need to offload it somehow. In my films I’m always driving out demons and phantoms. But that’s just a part of it. I was also attracted by the idea of being able to bring out the tragi-comic side of the character.
It all seemed very interesting to me and I decided to do this story, but in the end I decided to adapt it for the cinema, first and foremost, because I had a hunch that I could tell the story in a very particular way. I felt that if this was a story about anguished desire for the other, then I should make a film in which the narrative – and the photography – were anguished, tense. And I believe that this idea has meant that Amor idiota (Idiot love) is my freest film, at least in a narrative sense. To portray the angst of Pere-Lluc I’ve drawn on all those elements that, for a false sense of purism, I had always turned my back on. For example, the zoom. Before this film I had always forbidden my cameramen to use it, to the extent that I even checked the cases they carried their lenses in to make sure they had not included a zoom. And it turns out that this time I’ve not just become reconciled to its use, I’ve ended up adoring it. And using the zoom seemed to me to be the most natural thing in the world. The whole film was made using hand-held cameras, with a lot of sweeping panned shots, whilst trying, obviously, not to make the viewer dizzy. But I didn’t do it in order to make a modern film. I’m not interested in experimenting in being modern. Amor idiota talks of the angst of the modern man, but it also deals with the yearning to create, to find oneself through searching for meaning in the narrative. And all this has led me to make the film in an apparently casual way, though in reality, everything is meticulously planned, as always. This time I’ve done away with neat careful camerawork, yet without damaging the quality of the sequences. I’ve made it seem as though the camera is searching for something, but I know exactly what it is that I want it to show. I really enjoyed working in this way, because I felt very free. I’ve always been looking, in my films, for the best way to explain the stories and this has made me feel freer and freer, searching out harmony and coherence between content and form. Mario Montero, the Director of Photography and cameraman, proved to be the perfect accomplice for this aesthetic approach.
I changed several things from the novel. In the book, the story is told by means of an internal monologue and I had to synthesise and reorder its complicated structure in order to make the action clearer from a dramatic point of view. The aim was to bring out the highpoints while still maintaining the sense of the characters’ progression and change. What most obsessed me was to find the dramatic curve, and I think I managed to do so. Baulenas set the story one year after the Olympic Games in Barcelona, while I’ve brought it forward to 2004, since it seemed to me that the disorientation of modern man remains, unfortunately, much as it was ten years ago. In the end the Olympics only served as a backdrop for the story, and backdrops are very often purely ephemeral – they end up being destroyed, just like everything else in this life.
I also changed one location, which has a dramatic importance in the story. In the novel, Pere-Lluc’s friend is Italian, while in the film he is Argentinean, because the connection with Argentinean actors is much stronger at the moment. It seemed to me that this would be a much more realistic base to work from. On the other hand, the distance also increases the dramatic sense. If a friend of mine were to die in Italy, I’d jump on a plane and go there straight away. But if they died in Argentina, I’d think twice before doing it because everything is much more complicated. The absent friend is the cathartic element. Pere-Lluc, in despair because Sandra has left him, sets off for Buenos Aires in search of the memory of his friend but in reality what he needs to encounter is himself. And as often happens, you end up finding yourself through others.
To sum up, then, this film is full of reflections, spoken out loud, about love, death, communication... And then there is something else that I’m really enthusiastic about and which I find really original. And that is that he thinks he’s an idiot. Well, in fact he thinks the whole world is stupid, but the difference is that he openly recognises his own idiocy. The irony lies in presenting idiocy as an everyday reality and showing the transcendence that it can acquire within a society that is as stupid, almost brainless, as that which between us all we are helping to create... To me it seems paradigmatic, universal. The story has some marvellous, fantastical twists and turns. “We idiots can only have faith, hope and charity. And a little bit of love, because it’s free”. And this allows me to round the film off in an ironic way, which I hope people will understand, which is, and please forgive my presumptuousness, like the classic Chaplin ending. And with this happy ending I’m trying to wink at the audience.
It was difficult to bring this story to the cinema, but when you’ve learnt your trade, the difficult things become enjoyable. I’m not interested in doing easy things. If I love this film, it’s because I had to work at it. I’m speaking as a Screenwriter and Director now, not as a Producer. I’m talking about the level of creativity involved. If I am also the Producer, it’s basically to do with preserving my freedom to act as I wish. The most difficult thing, as always, was the internal time, the maintaining of the dramatic tension. The structure is fairly classical: boy meets girl, they fight, and they get back together again. But all this is tremendously subtle. There was a moment in the script that caused me a lot of heartache, the time needed to explain how their relationship developed after she battered him around the head. In the book, this occupies many pages, but in the film I only had a few minutes to explain it all. I was also worried by how to deal with some of the other characters and how to fit in their friends, who are difficult and complex characters, full of subtle nuances.
I was lucky enough to work with some magnificent actors, who also brought out all the chemistry that my intuition told me that they would have, even more than they themselves imagined. What makes this work interesting is trying to stretch things, to take them a little bit further and not to make do with the obvious. It was in this sense that I decided to gamble on Cayetana and Santi.
I’ve always admired comic actors, who are often underrated, for they are often very good dramatic actors. And I believe that Santi Millán is one of the best actors I have ever worked with. On the one hand, he has all the experience built up over ten years with La Cubana, playing a whole host of different characters, and at the same time he has a very finely-honed technique that comes from his time in television. But above all he has a very special gift – you are never aware that he is acting, that he is doing what every actor does when they create their character, when they assume the role of the other. Cayetana Guillén is a very fine dramatic actress. I discovered her in the theatre and she has a hardness, and a fragility, a range of registers which she uses to great effect in this film, building up a very difficult character and yet one that you understand perfectly. She is very intelligent. But not all intelligent people are good actors. And not all actors are intelligent. I believe that, in this case, the two things come together and combine to make a performance that she can truly be very happy with. The two of them are also accompanied by other fine actors, Marc Cartes, Mercè Pons, Jordi Dauder… who form the cushion that the story needed.
Screenplay, Direction and Production
Screenplay based on the novel
AMOR D’IDIOTA by LLUÍS-ANTON BAULENAS
Director of Production
EL LABORATORI DE BARCELONA FILM , S.L.
AMADEUS POSTPRODUCCIÓN, S.L.
ELS FILMS DE LA RAMBLA, S.A
in associaction with
GRANDALLA CINEMATOGRÀFICA, S.L.
with the participation of
TELEVISIÓN ESPAÑOLA, S.A.,
TELEVISIÓ DE CATALUNYA, S.A.
distributed by MANGA FILMS, S.L.
Palm Springs, New York (LC) & Tiburon (US)
Lisboa, Funchal & Oporto (Portugal)
Santo Domingo (Rep. Dominicana)
Rio de Janeiro (Brasil)
Viña del Mar (Chile)
San Sebastián (Spain)
Mexico D.F. (Mexico)
San Salvador (El Salvador)
Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Guatemala (Rep. Guatemala)
La Habana (Cuba)
Santiago de Chile (Chile)
La Paz (Bolivia)
Costa Rica (Rep. Costa Rica)
Praga (Rep. Checa)
Zúrich & Berna (Suiza)
Abidjan (Costa de Marfil)
San Diego (US)
Nominations Barcelona Awards (Catalan Directors Awards)
Ventura Pons (Best Director)
Mario Montero (Best Photography).
Nominations Music Awards: Carles Cases (Best Music).