Flowers of mysterious origin are the node for three intersecting storylines—of a menopausal woman, a widower, and a grieving mother—in Jon Garaño and Jose Mari Goenaga’s literary Loreak (Flowers). Featuring naturalistic performances from modest looking actors, the film is a low-key exploration of relationships, tracing infatuations, obsessions, and secrets. When the menopausal woman suddenly starts regularly receiving flowers from an unknown sender, her husband increasingly becomes jealous to the point of going to the florist and demanding to know why people who buy flowers are not I.D.ed. The widow starts following around her mother-in-law after learning about a stranger leaving flowers at her husband’s grave. Though Loreak is a character study, its characters’ behaviors are presented obliquely. Its plot unfurls as slowly as a lotus flower, without emphasis on incident. There’s also a compelling undertow of suspense because Pascal Gaigne’s score doesn’t guide us; it’s used occasionally as foreshadowing or punctuation, and it’s not even necessary then. Through a mix of well composed close-ups, establishing shots, and tracking shots, DP Javier Agirre creates the look of the movie, focusing our attention on details that would ordinarily escape the average eye. Loreak’s not a multi-thread narrative in the tradition of Alejandro González Iñárritu or Paul Haggis, nor is it like last year’s Men, Women & Children—it’s neither overly tragic nor a message movie. Which is what makes it good.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White