Review: May God Save Us (2016)

Without a trace.

by Antonio Cabello

Review of May God Save Us (Que Dios nos perdone, 2016) by Rodrigo Sorogoyen. Spain.

I know it’s not easy, but in May God Save Us sweating is done all wrong. How fucking hard it must be to sweat (and make sweat) in movies. That said, how formidably did John McClane sweat just moments before spouting out “Yippee Ki Yay, motherfucker!” to his own nemesis. But let’s not detract ourselves, let’s leave the streets of New York for the ones of Madrid on the Summer of 2011.

In the bowels of a city in flames, a city of foul stench bordering on collective schizophrenia, paths are crossed betwee the “indignation” of the 15-M Movement manifestants and the “faith” of the one and a half million pilgrims called by the Catholic Church to participate in World Youth Day; as such, the economic crisis and Christ are omnipresent themes throughout the movie.

If this exceptional historical time frame had found itself inscribed within the movie’s atmosphere then we’d probably be sitting in front of a master work in the vein of the modern Spanish crime thriller, with notable examples such as No Rest for the Wicked (No habrá paz para los malvados, Enrique Urbizu, 2011) and  Marshland (La isla mínima, Alberto Rodríguez, 2014). No such luck. To go on with the metaphor, let’s say May God Save Us is a movie where there’s not enough sweating.

This in spite of the performing strength of the lead duo, inspectors Alfaro (Roberto Álamo) and Velarde (Antonio de la Torre); an unlikely couple, apparently exact opposites, that will be in charge of investigating the crimes perpetrated by a serial killer.

Directed by Rodrigo Sorogoyen (whose last movie was Stockholm, 2013), the film constructs an absorbing, labyrinthine mise-en-scène that goes on to lose certain credibility by the broad strokes applied to its cast of characters and, above all, some questionable shortcuts that the script takes that simply do no not match the circumstances of the story.

In retrospect, May God Save Us is an entertaining genre exercise, a movie that misses out on the chance to make something out of its powerful subject matter in order to leave an indelible mark on the spectator.


 

TonioAntonio Cabello / Writer (Jaén, Spain – 1993) Producer and editor for Fremantlemedia Spain on TV shows, he studied journalism and audiovisual communication at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. He also studied poetry, humanism and film criticism. Five years ago he founded Esencia Cine, for which he has covered the Cannes and San Sebastián film festivals. Life is time.

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