Through the medium of absurdist comedy, legendary Spanish auteur José Luis Cuerda critiques the current state of affairs in Spain, and the globe, in Tiempo Después. One of Cuerda’s signature traits is his ability to bring together an all-star cast. For this film, Roberto Álamo, Blanca Suárez, Andreu Buenafuente and Miguel Herrán — who reached global fame in his role in La Casa de Papel (Money Heist) — are all enlisted by the director for a two-hour trip of ‘serious fun’.
Despite being set in the distant future of 9177, Tiempo Después could well take place in 2019, judging by how little society seems to have evolved. The whole population of our planet is split into the rich, who live in a concrete skyscraper with a phallic aura, so to speak, and the poor, who live in a slum in the forest. A touch of Orwell is present throughout the dual-class system in which social escalation is impossible.
The seeds of revolution are planted by a lemonade seller who is sick of being a “parado” (unemployed). He wants to move up in the world, but the governing elite tell him that if he finds a job, he will no longer be unemployed, thus eliminating the essence of being unemployed. This is one of the not-so-thinly veiled criticisms of Spanish society.
In the crazy world of Tiempo Después, routine is sanity, poetry is the humour of the elite, who monologue passages of contemporary, classic and cult literature — or film scripts which, to my humour, played with the legendary final monologue of Blade Runner: “And all will be washed away, like urine in rain.”
The script is an intricate web of intellectual humour that remains self-aware at every beat, making it evident that this film is what Cuerda has strived to make throughout his career. The cast has been picked perfectly, bringing chemistry to the screen and presented with symmetrical (and very pleasing) camerawork.
As someone who has lived in Spain for 16 years, I found the humour to be spot-on, but as I laughed out loud, I noticed that the majority of the audience weren’t as enthused as I was — potentially as the film is so rooted in criticism of Spanish life that the magic of it is, quite literally, lost in translation. The absurd visual humour and global themes will be appreciated by global audiences, I’m sure, but to truly appreciate the film, you had to be there.
Despite this, I believe the result of Cuerda’s work is a film that will soon be a cult classic — much like his previous work, namely Amanece, que no es poco — which hasn’t been moulded to please the world; it stands on its own two feet, presents itself as it is and welcomes you to engage with it.
Yet, this is what makes Spanish cinema so special: it’s unique, it’s bold and it doesn’t give a fuck about what the world thinks of it.
The film was followed by an insightful Q&A with the film’s producer, Félix Tussell.
¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival 2019 returns to HOME Manchester from Friday 22nd March to Saturday 13th April. The full programme and tickets are available HERE, on HOME’s website.