Compelling images open this rural slow-burner, the third feature from French-Galician writer-director Oliver Laxe. A sea of trees, bathed in nocturnal blue, begins slowly – mysteriously – to collapse: one by one, domino-like, apparently on impulse. There is real eerieness to the almost mammalian way they fall: mournful, inevitable. Laxe then takes us to the floor, revealing the source of this apparent mass fainting spell: two gigantic bulldozers, all-powerful and again shot as if breathing.

Throughout Fire Will Come, Laxe draws a lot out of the most unexpected gazes: a moment of rare emotional elation is expressed through the oblique and mesmerising relationship between the camera and a bemused cow; most frequently, we are asked to infer detail through the intriguing visage of nonprofessional lead actor, Amador Arias.

Amador the character has recently been released from prison, where he has spent two years for arson – apparently he started a fire that consumed a local hill, though we are told no specifics. The villagers, meanwhile, veer between possible antagonism and gossiped words of sympathy – “It hasn’t been easy for him”, though to what this actually refers we can only guess. Links could be drawn between his fire and the sanctioned deforestations, but motive and context are deliberately slippery.

Much of this brief film, comprising observant gestures and gorgeous landscape photography, follows Amador settling back into agrarian life with his lively old mother. It takes an hour for a major incident to occur, after which Laxe wraps things up. Laxe commits here to a convincing quotidian mode – improving on the more mythic structure of his previous film, Mimosas – and as such finds fascinating new avenues of expression.

This highly imaginative study in looming disaster balances smart obscurities with genuine tenderness, held at the centre by a winning lead and the camera’s considerable gaze. Laxe’s particular brand of poetic realism is at its fullest expression yet: melancholic, careful, and gripping.  



CAST: Amador Arias, Benedicta Sánchez, Inazio Abraio, Elena Fernández

DIRECTOR: Oliver Laxe

WRITERS: Santiago Fillol, Oliver Laxe

SYNOPSIS: Amador is a notorious Galician arsonist who has been accused of causing a new fire.

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