The Realm is based
around Antonio de la Torre’s character Manuel Lopez-Vidal: a high-class
politician whose life begins to stream out of control when and his party and
his corrupt business dealings threaten to become public. Director Rodrigo
Sorogoyen co-writes this extremely well-polished story with Isabel Peña,
providing a narrative so fluent and compelling that it didn’t matter if you
missed out on the odd subtitle here and there.
De la Torre’s performance here is fantastic, it doesn’t take
a deep understanding of the Spanish language to see that he really has put
everything he has into his performance through great non-verbal cues. From the
beginning his arrogant, high class ways are evident; for lack of a better word
he is a prick. But as the story evolves, his arrogance fades away, showing a
man going from desperate to vulnerable to scared. Manuel has everything to lose,
he has a great life, a great family, a great career, money, a beautiful home
and the situation he finds himself stuck in threatens to take it all away – he
has every reason to be scared. His body language and emotional range really are
One particular scene, set on a balcony, between characters
Manuel Lopez-Vidal and Cabrera (Luiz Zahera) is one for the ages. This scene is
so intense, especially from Zahera, whose tone fluctuates throughout as he recites
his lines. His body language is also fantastic, he feels betrayed and exposed
and he shows this through actions, not just words. De La Torre is brilliant,
but Luiz Zahera is even more so. His performance impacts the scene in such a
way that you actually start to feel for their characters, even though
realistically they are arrogant high-roller criminals. Feeling bad for these
characters conflicted with my own morals. why should I be sympathetic towards these
criminals, these politicians that have taken advantage of their position at
every turn. It’s much like the real life political landscape of Australia right
now, which makes it all the more conflicting for me to feel sympathy for them.
Co-writers Sorogoyen and Isabel Peña have done a great job
with the screenplay. The build-up in tension from beginning to grand finale is
great, with the story flowing effortlessly through narrative beats. The
cinematography by Alejandro de Pablo was also great, creating visuals that are
stylish and sleek, and when matched with the original music by Olivier Arson
only helped complement Sorogoyen’s skilled direction.
The only part of the film that I took issue with was the
lead character of Manuel Lopez-Vidal as the main character. While Antonio de la
Torre gives a genuinely great performance, one that kept me interested in the
character, I just don’t respect criminals with little redeeming qualities as
the protagonist. Even when his life was spiralling out of control, I just
couldn’t bring myself to really care for Lopez-Vidal as much as I would have
Overall The Realm is
a fantastic political thriller filled with outstanding performances based
around a sleek, well-polished story. Whether you speak Español or not, I
certainly recommend The Realm.
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