Acclaimed documentary film-maker Chema Rodríguez makes his foray into feature films with the quirky and meditative drama, "Anochece en la India" [Eng. Title: Nightfall in India].
Ricardo (Juan Diego) is an ageing paraplegic hippie suffering from a degenerative decease. His grumpy attitude, and generally obnoxious behaviour is nevertheless tolerated by his quietly spoken live-in Romanian carer Dana (Clara Voda). For obvious reasons, Dana is also the longest have lasted in her job.
When Ricardo breaks the news that he will no longer require her services since he will be travelling to India, Dana isn't particularly overjoyed, not least because of the fact that he shouldn't be travelling in his present state of health. As if travelling the normal way wasn't enough, he also wants to make his final trip in style, just the way he used to all those years ago, by following the hippie trail through Eurasia.
Dana too decides to return to Romania, and accepts a lift from Ricardo because it is also on his way, but as destiny would have it, she will end up accompanying him all the way to India. We learn that Dana doesn't really need to work for a living, but does so in order to escape a cruel hand that fate has dealt her earlier. To compensate for her inabilities, she had decided to take on the role of Ricardo's angel, and has also fallen in love with him.
For his part, Ricardo had tried to shield himself from potential heartache through his grouchy demeanour. His real reason for travelling to India will not remain a secret for long; rather than his stated claim of reconnecting with his sweetheart from years ago, his trip to India is for taking his life, and he had made all the necessary arrangements to that effect. In his misery and suffering, he had found precious little will to live.
But Ricardo's cocksure ideas about life and death are put to test under unexpected circumstances, after they find themselves trapped in a desolate ravine following an accident. With little else to do while waiting for help that might probably never even arrive, they have a proper chat for the very first time. Will the two, who have been refusing to face up to some bitter truths in their respective lives, finally have the courage to seek enlightenment...
The film isn't your everyday road movie, because the journey that the protagonists undertake is not only physical but also metaphorical. Ricardo and Dana both have issues that require addressing despite them doggedly pursuing their own objectives. Rodríguez doesn't judge their decisions but merely places them in context, allowing viewers a glimpse into the overall picture. The principal actors give a convincing performance, but the star of the film has to be the quirky, yet nuanced screenplay that is engaging through both its humorous and introspective moments. The film dedicates considerable attention to the little details that significantly enhance the 'bigger picture'. If I have to express an opinion about this little gem in Ricardo's inimitable style, it'll be "de puta madre!" - in other words, Highly Recommended Viewing..! :-)
Amazon DVD Link [PAL]
The Nudity: Clara Voda and Vanessa Castro
Vanessa Castro, as Ricardo's old flame from the past, appears nude in a brief black and white collage. In another scene, Clara Voda attempts to make Ricardo change his plans in India, but fails.