Our suns ***
by Carla Simon
Spanish film, 2 hours
History is as universal as it is rooted in its territory. A rural and joyful Catalonia bathed in sunshine. With its language, its ancestral rites, and its orchards as far as the eye can see. The Solé have been growing peaches there, as a family, for generations. But the upcoming harvest could well be the last because the family is threatened with eviction. The land they farm, under an arrangement between neighbors dating back to the Spanish Civil War, does not belong to them. And the owner decided to install solar panels there to capture this energy, which is now worth gold. Ordered to adapt or to leave, Quimet, the head of the family, his sisters, and their children, are torn apart, unaware of living there their last moments of happiness.
An intimate chronicle of the end of a world, that of the traditional peasantry, Nos soleils is directly inspired by the story of the director’s family, originally from Alcarràs where the plot takes place and where she spent as a child, all his vacations. A tribute to these last farming families, caught in a vice between the low prices of large retailers and land speculation, his film is less militant than tinged with this tender nostalgia specific to memories. With this family, a whole world is about to disappear under the blows of modernity and profitability. That of lives dedicated to the earth to the point of deforming the bodies, hot and dry summers, anxieties linked to the harvest but also children on the loose, village festivals and Sundays punctuated by the traditional songs of the grandfather and grandmother’s stories.
By reconstructing a fictional family with non-professional actors, all from the region, Carla Simon manages to build a story that is larger than life. To the point that we constantly wonder if we are not dealing with a real sibling. The naturalism of its staging, which borders on documentary, is put to use in a living and breathless story taking place over the course of a summer. The stubbornness of the elder Quimet, locked in denial, drags his whole family with him into the turmoil, each wondering about the best choices to make to preserve his future. The dissensions that then appear allow the director to explore, without judgement, the reasons for each person’s action.
But it is undeniably the children, already at the center of his previous film Summer 93, prize for best first film in Berlin in 2017, who seduce. Whether they are playing space conquest in the carcass of an abandoned 2CV, building cabins in a fold in the land or slaloming between the rows of peach trees in the middle of the seasonal, they adorn reality with the colors of their imagination. Carla Simon has the art of filming them and making their innocence an antidote to gloom.