After several short films, director Aritz Moreno announces Advantages of Travelling by Train his feature film debut – based on a script by “Enemy” author Javier Gullón. In our review we reveal why the darkly humorous material is worthwhile.
Dog lover Emilio (Quim Gutiérrez) has one or two abysses to offer.
This creates (if you have the necessary special humor gene) a very strange, thieving joy in discovering how much deeper this construction goes. It is a sharply exaggerated variant of the ensemble/episode films popularized by “Love Actually”, in which supposedly separate stories come together at some point. “The Obscure Stories of a Train Traveler,” on the other hand, is about “When will the story be told again?” When do we leave this story?” – well, and about much heavier, more remote topics than great love. It’s about revenge, dependence, gullibility, bourgeois misery and wild ideas. As with “real” episodic films, the narrative crispness of the individual chapters, sub-chapters and sub-sub-chapters varies here, but Moreno keeps the interested audience’s attention by always brushing all the narratives against the grain: a romantic passage becomes like a rancid erotic thriller tells a harrowing story of psychological abuse like a lively romantic comedy, funny scenes look like they come from a thriller and horrific sights are usually accompanied by upbeat music.
The fact that this succeeds is not only thanks to the camera work of Javier Agirre, who allows the different accents to blend seamlessly into one another with his shadowy style, but especially to the very capable cast: the bizarre tendencies of the plot and the characters’ habits, which range from strange to psychotic by Pilar Castro (“Julieta”)Luis Tosar (“Open my eyes”), Ernesto Alteiro (“El Otro Lado De La Cama”) and Co. are always half “pointed”, half dramatic and pathetic, which creates a basic mood that is difficult to compare – one that fits: the stories are nasty to stupid, and yet in plausible in their world, and entertaining in a very macabre way even in the most disgusting moments. Aritz Moreno, with his surreal narrative style that pushes tonal boundaries, could become Spain’s sinister answer to the French cult director Quentin Dupieux – now his debut just needs to receive the attention it deserves so that he can continue on his path. It would be nice! Because it really doesn’t always have to be tomato sauce, carbonara or sauce Espagnole (and that would be adventurous for some people on pasta).
“The bizarre twists and turns of the plot and the characters’ habits, which range from strange to psychotic, are always created in a half-pointed, half-dramatically-pathetic way by Pilar Castro, Luis Tosar (“Open My Eyes”), Ernesto Alteiro and Co creates a basic atmosphere that is difficult to compare.”
Conclusion: “Advantages of Travelling by Train” is macabre-amusing, smartly convoluted genre cinema from Spain that wants to be experienced.
“Advantages of Travelling by Train” can be seen in USA cinemas from August 20, 2020.