San Sebastian: Bullet in the Head, chronicle of a day in the life

Article published on Sept. 29, 2008
Article published on Sept. 29, 2008
Ion wakes up, drinks coffee, cleans up his house and goes out to meet with a laywer. That evening, he goes to a party, meets a woman and sleeps with her at her place. The first 50 minutes of Bullet in the Head are completely normal, seemingly nothing. Ion receives a phone call, meets two friends with whom he drives along the highway from the Basque Country to France.
They spend the night at the house of friends. The day after, they eat something in a bar and meet with two undercover cops, whom they shoot.

After winning a Goya for Solitary Fragments [trailer], Jaime Rosales decided to lay it on thicker with Bullet, which screened at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

The film has almost no dialogue whatsoever. The main character in real life is called Ion Arretxe and is not an actor, but Rosales’ set designer. The director uses a distant and never subjective perspective to depict a true story that took place in Spain.

Says Rosales: "We were right in the middle of shooting Bullet in the Head and were interrupted to go receive the Goya Solitary Fragments". Thus, one cannot accuse the filmmaker of being the victim of delusions of grandeur, although the temptation to do so is great. One can only watch the birth of Spanish neo-neorealism, whose survival depends on the subtle reactions of critics, who have always been very generous with the Catalan director.

Yet it is unacceptable to ignore the public, of whom Rosales requires "interactive" participation. The public at today’s screening participated, and how, with clapping, foot stomping, a racket during the screening. Rosales has sparked controversy, appealing to a presumed apolitical situation. One must ask one’s self is all this apparent objectivity could result in a "dictatorship of passivity", of sorts.

Produced by Jose María Morales (Wanda) and Rosales, in co-production with France’s Le Productions Balthazar and sold internationally by The Match Factory, Bullet in the Head is a prominent candidate for this year’s Goyas.

Carlo d'Ursi