As steaming services play a bigger and bigger role in the film and television industry, a lot of attention is going to their original content–but mainly streaming television shows. What about streaming movies? What hidden gems or washed up flops are hiding under the “___ Original” tab? Let’s see what is awash in the stream.
Tu Hijo (2019)
Director – Miguel Angel Vivas
Written By – Alberto Marini, Miguel Angel Vivas
The short pitch for Tu Hijo sounds boringly familiar. Seville surgeon Jaime Jimenez (Jose Coronado) is at work when his son Marcos is brought into the ER having been savagely beaten by unknown assailants. The police are stretched and don’t have any obvious leads, they’re not (at least from an angry relative’s viewpoint) working hard enough on the case. So, Jaime sets out to find his son’s assailants. So far, so Death Wish or Death Sentence or The Brave One. One of those disturbing wish fulfillment pieces that worrying people watch so they can think about murdering people while being in the right. Where the bad guys are cartoon evil and an average Joe becomes an angel of death through sheer will.
This is not one of those films. Jaime is a professional 50 something guy with no experience of violence other than the aftermath in his patients. Even trying to find the assailants is a hard, long slog. There are lingering scenes of him waiting in the dark in the hope that some kind of lead will appear.
The closest US film I could compare it to is Blue Ruin, but it doesn’t quite have that movie’s level of inevitability. Jaime is in Spain, there isn’t the access to guns (or the crossbow) that Blue Ruin has. While this film has moments of violence, some of them brutal, it isn’t an action film. It isn’t at heart a revenge film, more a meditation on the poisonous effects of toxic masculinity. It’s telling that almost no time is spent on the lead’s relationship with his wife and daughter after the attack. His focus is entirely on trying to ‘fix’ an unfixable mess. To provide a physical solution to emotional disarray. Throw some violence at it, that’ll help.
It won’t help. It will only make things worse, more so, if you don’t have all the information at hand. Which, without getting into spoilers, the lead does not have.
It’s a tremendously well directed film, the lighting and sound reminiscent of Nicolas Winding Refn. The underbelly of Seville all sickly neon, graffiti and oil stained concrete. Vivas gives a sense of both the wrong side of the tracks and also the heightened repulsion a well to do man like Jimenez would feel in the alien world of the urban night.
Jose Coronado gives a gripping, Goya nominated performance and is supported by a cast that match him, giving the naturalistic performances that further elevate this from the aforementioned revenge schlock.
I wouldn’t say it’s an enjoyable experience, but it is a powerful, thought provoking one.
Hidden Gem or Washed Up Flop – Gem