“De Bares”, whose USA festival title is “Drink Up”, is a curious little piece of cinematic artistry that borders on the surreal yet still provides mature entertainment in every sense of the world.
Release Date: 21 October 2006 (Spain)
Director: Mario Iglesias
Writer: Mario Iglesias
Cast: Javier Albalá, Pepi Cabaleiro, Jesús Cabrero
Language: Spanish, Gallegan
The ten intertwining stories of everlasting love, drunkenness, the complexities of romance, creative awareness, suffering, envy, remorse, familial love, and lust are all rooted from a single event: a character named Oscar walking into a bar that had its walls covered with different photographs. It’s a story within many other stories that will either leave you spellbound or confused depending on your individual taste in movies. If complexity and being able to think about the movie way after you leave the cinema is more of your thing, then this might be the movie for you.
What’s more, the movie’s complexity doesn’t necessarily mean it’s indecipherable, and De Bares shows how interconnect these different stories into one unifying theme without muddling its central message regarding the human condition. Essentially, the movie implies that each and every one of the photographs found in this bar wall reflects a story, a history, and moment frozen in time that captures memories free from the haze of your own biased mind. They’re the gates to different people’s lives—anyone’s lives, yours or mine. These photographs represent memories and lives from persons who could be any one of us in this world.
The many layers of meaning that are found in a given photograph are a lot deeper than one would initially suppose. There’s more to a still image than meets the eye, because behind each picture tells a story that’s waiting to be unearthed and a life that’s yearning to be uncovered. This highly unique and innovative movie of Director Mario Iglesias works behind the premise of the underlying history of a given photograph and how it acts like a record and a time machine of sorts that brings you back to the story behind the picture or the thousands of words encapsulated in a given image. Basically, it’s a story of a young Spanish man who regularly visits a local pub of sorts.
Because he is intrigued by the wall of photographs that cover the walls of the bar, he eventually allows his shared inquisitiveness with the rest of the bar regulars to give the pictures life. In the course of ten stories that’s part of an elaborate yet highly mesmerizing series of vignettes, the audience are introduced to characters from all walks of Spanish life, which includes an unlikely volunteer in a drug deal, a female with skeletons in her closet that she chooses to reveal to a stranger and a group of drunkards involved in a violent debate over where exactly the horizon is, and other such colorful personalities. De Bares talks the talk and walks the walk when it comes to breathing life into the lively bar culture.
Then again, the film has faults which, while intentional, can irritate some viewers, such as the woozy close-up camera work that’s deliberately induced to convey drunken disorientation yet can leave audiences more irritated than impressed. Nevertheless, the overall dreamlike sensation imparted by this film is truly commendable style-wise. The mix of the disturbing to the hilarious is certainly a nice touch, and the overall brevity of the movie guarantees that each story won’t overstay their welcome. In a nutshell, it’s a movie about bar stories—the best you’ll ever hear—presented in the full regalia than only cinema can provide.