Fragments of memory and the struggles of being stuck in neutral collide in this slight but sincere first-person documentary from Spanish filmmaker Jorge Juárez. Juárez was one of many young Spaniards affected by the country’s unemployment crisis which skyrocketed following the 2008 recession and still damages the country to this day. 

In this hour-long homemade doc, Juárez covers the struggles that he has dealt with as a result of his unemployment, the main focus being his long-distance relationship with his girlfriend Ana. Through video chats and voicemails, we see the strain that Jorge and Ana’s relationship is being put under and how they have begun to gradually float away from each other. Between these scenes of emotional fragility, Juárez turns his camera onto key developments in Spain, including the several general elections that have played a key role in shaping the country’s future. 

In its most poignant moments, Juárez’s home-video style doc captures the frustrations of a generation hung out to dry, a whole section of Spanish society who live in uncertainty. Midway through the film, Ana emigrates to Bulgaria in her desperate search for employment, showing the very few opportunities available to them back home and further testing Jorge and Ana’s relationship.

But Juárez often drops the ball when it comes to the film’s structure, letting the focus increasingly wander into abstract dream sequences that drag Sentimental Education away from its commentary on modern Spanish society. This style of first-person documentation is a powerful way for Juárez to reflect on his past and process his fractured relationship with Ana, but it feels like the viewer is increasingly being left behind.

Sentimental Education lives and dies with its first-person style. It begins with a compelling critique of modern Spain but as the film delves more and more into Juárez’s past, so it leaves the viewer in the dark.



CAST: Jorge Juárez, Ana Petrelli

DIRECTOR: Jorge Juárez

SYNOPSIS: Filmmaker Jorge Juárez dissects his long distance relationship and unemployment troubles in modern-day Spain.