When the cashier at a high-street shop compares Leo’s (Amalia Ulman) trendy looking animal print coat to the similarly patterned shirt he has on, the young woman offers a half-smile and blatantly says “Moschino”, as if to remind the man that their outfits are nothing alike. It is a gracious albeit pretentious nod, made remarkably witty by the fact the woman can’t even afford the pack of hairpins in front of her. 

Leo is back to her small hometown to be with her mother, María (Ale Ulman), after the passing of the family’s patriarch. An observation of the routine of grieving, and of grieving within the routine, El Planeta gracefully conveys tragedy, portraying both women as complex individuals struggling to conceive a life other than the one they had – one that they may never experience again. It is this particular grief, the longing for the familiar, that plagues mother and daughter, more so than the physical absence of this man we never get to see. 

Caught in a blissful state of denial, the duo overlooks the army of unpaid bills and accumulating debt clamping down on them. The world drips with effortless glamour as they walk around the town in designer clothes and expensive-looking sunglasses, bluffing their way into running up tabs and grabbing free lunches. True life mother and daughter, Amalia and Ale Ulman give Leo and María a delightful rapport, their conversations equally permeated by humour and tenderness. Between the two, tension is ever palpable yet never violent, their camaraderie overshadowing the need for conflict. 

From the ingenious metaphor built on top of a dead cat to the way in which costume design elevates the characters, first-time director Amalia Ulman shows refined attention to detail. El Planeta is a fresh, captivating reflection on finality, whichever way it comes. 



CAST: Amalia Ulman, Ale Ulman, Zhou Chen, Saoirse Bertram

DIRECTOR: Amalia Ulman

WRITER: Amalia Ulman

SYNOPSIS: Amidst the devastation of post-crisis Spain, mother and daughter bluff and grift to keep up the lifestyle they think they deserve, bonding over common tragedy and an impending eviction.