Let no one sleep: Malena Alterio, the teachings of a perplexed actress (****)

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Perplexity, in general, has a bad press. Maimonidesfor example, wrote his particular ‘Guide for the perplexed’ with the healthy and very rational intention of enlightening the bewildered, uncertain and confused. After all, there are few existential situations as unsustainable as that of the moral subject faced with two equally valid options. The lament is the philosopher’s. But, on the other hand, the same perplexity that causes so much tension ends up being a good tool for right knowing. Wisdom is only achieved through systematic doubt, the thinker more concerned with the pillars of science than with the foundations of ethics would tell us. In any case, be it from one point of view or another, from Maimonides or Descartes, what it is about is ending the stupor of not knowing. What leaves us perplexed offends because it is immoral or lax. A third meaning would fit and here the director Méndez Esparza and, led by the actress Malena Alterio, come in. with the invaluable help of the author Juan José Millás. For all three, on the contrary, only perplexity saves, only the disconcerting illuminates, only the strange places us before the great lie of the normal. We have arrived.

‘Let no one sleep’ It is, to begin with, a movie. And more specifically, fiction. It is directed by the first of those mentioned in the previous paragraph (Méndez Esparza, not Maimónides), it is performed with unusual authority by the second on the list and its source of inspiration is a novel by the last one with the compound name. But even before a simple film production, it is also a guide for the perplexed. The only thing that its purpose is not to take us out of stupor but rather the opposite, to abandon us in the depths of it and each of our uncertainties. It is comedy, but its harsh manners are those of tragedy; It is a fable, but it moves across the screen as an after-dinner ethological documentary would; It is fantastic cinema, but its touch, and even smell, is so close and real that, indeed, it leaves us perplexed. And so. The result is a film with its eyes completely open, a film that sinks into the retina and stays there to live. Without a doubt, the most aggressively unique, beautiful, fun in its own way and, of course, disconcerting Spanish cinema of the year.

The story is told of a computer programmer who one day becomes unemployed and that same day decides to become a taxi driver. From the seat of her car, she talks to her clients, imagines a different life (which is not necessarily better), falls in love, dresses in a kimono and, of course, walks the streets of a city by strange force. . And so on until one day she meets a theater director. (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón) that will help you add perplexity to your own perplexity, which is what it is about.

The director of films like ‘Here and there’, ‘Life and nothing else’ y ‘Courtroom 3H’ he changes register slightly to confuse himself and confuse us even more. If his previous films started from reality to imagine the possibility of its opposite (his actors until now have always been what are called natural actors or characters who, in some way, interpret themselves), now it is about reversing the terms. This time it is the fable that is proposed as a starting point to, from there, bend the wrist to the given, to the real.

The entire film runs as a neorealist drama would through the sour certainties of an unsatisfactory, slightly bitter and somewhat dirty life. His faithful description of the impostures of a certain intellectual class is revealing to say the least. However, imagination is there as a constant vanishing point, as proof that reality, if necessary, is just a bad copy of each of our desires, each of our disappointments and each of the promises. And it is from that space without an owner or place where the film is proposed both as a faithful portrait of society and as a simple and very intimate nightmare. Everything runs simultaneously inside and outside the head of a huge Malena Alterio. And here it is worth stopping.

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