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El Mar Review

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Two boys and a girl were involved in the death of two other boys (one murdered, one a suicide) during the Spanish Civil War. Years later, they meet again at a hospital for sufferers of tuberculosis.

★★★★★

Ever since the victim of a Nazi paedophile became his attacker's death bed companion in Agustin Villaronga's 1986 debut, In A Glass Cage, this unconventional filmmaker has pondered the themes of abused youth, tormented memory and selfless mercy. But he fails to keep the lid on the melodramatics in this period blend of homoeroticism and religious mania.

Bound together by their childhood experiences in the Spanish Civil War, black marketeer Andreu (Casamajor), ultra-devout invalid Manuel (Bergonzini) and nursing nun Francisca (Torrens) discover they have little left in common when they are reunited a decade later in a TB sanitorium. The story is dark, and it's starkly handled by Villaronga, making it hard to warm to the damaged characters at the heart of the piece - which, perhaps, is the point.

Outbursts of violence and clammy sex keep the temperature above boiling point, but the cacophonous score eventually numbs your senses.