Almost twenty years ago, the appearance of ‘Any‘(2003) in the panorama of the Spanish film industry marked a small milestone in the history of independent cinema of the country in the pre-Internet era. It was a minimal, corrosive and direct bitter comedy that tried to acidly reflect the reality of the moment through the figure of an unemployed aspiring actor (like the slacker in Richard Linklater’s early dramedies) perpetually angry with the world. .
Eric Francés, Héctor Montoliu, Alberto Garant and Nora Navas were there. The movie, to this day, is a cult object at the height of ‘Las flores de Bach’ by Juan Flahn, ‘Fea’ by Félix Sabroso and Dunia Ayaso, ‘Los Hijos del Vierto’ by Fernando Merinero or ‘Hienas’ by Norberto Ramos del Val.
The universe of David Marqués
The young director of that movie was David marquis and his double recidivism this year – as a screenwriter with the most mainstream ‘Derailed’ and as the total author in this ‘El club del unemployment’ that we are dealing with indicates, for the better, that Spanish cinema can survive regardless of the two or three families on duty. Although these margins are also very narrow, almost like those of the labor market itself.
‘El club del unemployment’ is a very familiar film for fans of Marqués’ cinema. In her, Eric French, a fetish of its director from the same ‘Anyone’, plays a livelihood who survives doing shenanigans and tricks and who is nicknamed “El Negro” not precisely because of his skin color.
Together with him, Adrià Collado, another regular in his cinema since the paradigmatic ‘Isolated’ (2005), gives life to a lucky and obsessive journalist; Fernando Tejero placeholder image, who will work with the director in ‘Waste’ (2010) and ‘En off game’ (2011), plays a conspiranoid with a tendency to irritability, and Carlos Areces placeholder image, the new incorporation, is a nobody envious, bitter and, what is worse, mean.
The four of them are magnificent interpreting, between reeds, this pathetic and recognizable gang of losers that fit into the particular universe of its director. And till Veki Velilla gives life to a waitress, a common counterpoint to this class of subjects, who is, in turn, a reflection of the character of Laura Pamplona in ‘En off game’. ‘El club del unemployment’ plays all its cards to the recognition of their situations and their characters, especially their miseries and vicissitudes.
Connects very well with the thread of Madrid comedy cultivated by Fernando Colomo and the first Fernando Trueba, and also with the grotesque decadence of the Spanish developmental comedy, whether in its most popular vein (Ozores, Lazaga) or in its blackest and vitriolic register (Fernán-Gómez). Also, in his portrait of a branch of declassified, parasites of an impossible system, Marquis owes much to the popular Italian comedy: Scola, Risi, Comencini, Steno, Michele Massimo Tarantini, and so on.
‘El club del paro’, Spanish low cost cinema with references to American comedy
It is difficult to choose a film from the entire Marqués filmography and defend why it is better than the previous ones: each one is the daughter of its time and adapts to a society that resurfaces or falls apart. In ‘El club del unemployment’, however, there are elements that bring it closer to the recent cinema low cost Spanish, specifically to Juan Cavestany (for his blackness, for his acidity, for his capacity for abstraction), and especially, to Toni Nievas from the highly salvageable ‘Como todos las mañanas’ (2013).
Also, for the first time, the cinema of Marqués seems to approach foreign references, like the sitcoms ‘The office’ and ‘Parks and recreation’, the mockumentary format taken to the top by Christopher Guest and Mike Judge’s comedy ‘Trash Work’ (1999): Fernando Alonso’s joke would be an equivalent of Michael Bolton’s and the Collado’s character, a reformulation of the ineffable Milton.
At times, the film seems a corrected and fierce version of ‘Los Mondays in the Sun’ by Fernando León de Aranoa and other times, as in its second part, dominated by a shared situation between the character of Areces and that of Francés, it is even allowed do jokes about the origin of Covid, without envying Sacha Baron Cohen, Trey Parker or Matt Stone. Let’s not forget that the action of the plot is located in a hypothetical pre-pandemic 2019.
The cast is completed by the great Carmen Ruiz, Antonio Resines, Marta Hazas, Javier Botet, María Isasi and Fele Martínez. The film can be seen in theaters since last September 17 and is one of the humorous jewels of Spanish cinema this year, guaranteed.