Lock Up (Spanish: Cruzando el límite), 2010.
Directed by Xavi Giménez.
Starring Marcel Borràs, Carlos Cuevas, Adolfo Fernández and Cristina Dilla.
A troubled teen is admitted to a high-security rehabilitation centre in an attempt to curb his dangerously wayward behaviour.
What a week it has been for the common folk of England. A week of unprecedented social and political point-taking that has seen the streets implode into an almost post-apocalyptic parody of itself. One in which the disenfranchised youth run rule over their former “oppressors” – the adults. So how fatefully apt that I find myself handed the task of commenting on the Spanish title, Lock Up – a film which seems to echo the troubles of our nation currently. With a DVD containing subtitle impotence and a grasp of the language that spans little further than fast food snacks, I somehow managed to cultivate an understanding of events onscreen.
Lock Up contains a dual narrative: The first of Fran (Marcel Borras), an unruly teenager who is at constant loggerheads with his incapable father, Luis (Adolfo Fernandez, Talk to Her). When the burden of looking after him because too much to bear, Luis enrols the young Fran into the C.I.M.C.A youth re-education centre where he undergoes a relentless regime aimed at desensitising the delinquent out of the kids. The second is of the father Luis who struggles with guilt and regret throughout – firstly, with being rejected and left by his wife and now his son.
Judging this ‘book by its cover’ is to be done at viewer’s discretion as the title Lock Up would suggest a film full of mistrust and swashbuckling prison exploits. There are a few instances of this but the film is about so much more than physicality. Look beyond the junior Guantanamo Bay setting and it is clear for all to see the mantra that is being repeated by first time director Xavi Gimenez: in order to bridge the divide between the youths and adults we ALL must seek help and change. It is not so subtly done when you have intercuts between almost identical scenes. At one point, the kids are permitted to “have fun” by dancing the waltz whilst the parents are involved in their own uniformed dance routine. However, scenes like that help to adequately insure that the message is well and truly grasped.
A cinematographer by trade, Gimenez expertly infuses into this low-budget production angles, hues and an appreciation of space and movement that keeps each scene as dynamic as possible. It is a talent I greatly admire as it is so easy for a film doused in dialogue to descend into tedium. However, that is not to say that Lock Up remains faultless in the aesthetics department. I am referring specifically to the weird artsy kaleidoscopic slow motion shots adopted by Gimenez which serve no positive purpose in my eyes. In fact, during an opening scene we are made to endure a gut-wrenching display of, what I can only delicately describe as tongue dogging, in extreme close-up. I never knew whether to keep watching or avert my eyes to the less vulgar sight of a piece of week-old pizza found festering under my desk.
Though that example of Goya-winning dedication to one’s work left little to be desired, overall, the cast of actors did a great job. Led by two enjoyable protagonists, the supporting cast made sure a small role needn’t mean an insignificant one. Borras achieved a range of emotions that made his character so believably uncouth and unstable, Fernandez summed up a lifetime of hurt in a single concluding monologue and Eduard Farelo and Fernando Guillen Cuervo who played the unprincipled C.I.M.C.A taskmasters will have you cleaning you parents’ table after every supper. In conclusion, an enjoyable watch that could potentially herald insightful assistance leading to common ground between youth and adults… if enough people give it a look.
Daniel Davidson-Amadi (follow me on Twitter)
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