TL;DR – A fun little film about small towns and that chaos they can cause for themselves.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is an end-credit scene
Ah, small-town life. If there was ever a concept that can transcend language and culture it is the chaos that a small town can find itself in if properly motivated. Today we get to look at a film that has one of the more interesting setups that I have seen and uses it to tell a delightful story about what happens when many competing visions clash together.
So to set the scene, we open in on the town of Tellería which is located in the Castile-León Automatous Community of Spain but they feel they should be in Basque given the vast majority of the town identifies that way. For years the town has campaigned for this and just when it looked like it would finally happen, politics above their heads means that they are stuck as part of a compromise. Well all is not completely lost, because on that same day as the great embarrassment, local son Gorka (Jon Plazaola), heritage specialist Yolanda (Maggie Civantos), and priest Don Anselmo (Secun de la Rosa) stumble across a secret tomb in the local church in it is the grave of the son of William Tell the famous Swiss hero and reveals that it is a lost Swiss Canton. Now, the town has an option because all of a sudden that is more Swiss than Spanish even though they are Basque.
entire premise of this film is just really silly, but unlike a lot of films,
they know it is and are more than happy to play up to it. It is the sort of
film that can jump from talking about mushrooms to terrorism in the same story
and plough on like nothing just happened. It is also a film that starts
with presenting a love-triangle and powers through until there is a
love-pentagram and that takes a lot of commitment. There are a lot of what seem
like good-natured digs at Switzerland and some amusing riffs about the different
parts of Spanish society. I’m not an expert on some of those divisions so I can’t
say for sure if the film was able to walk that line being playful without
crossing into unhelpful caricatures but from an outside perspective, it seems
One of the strengths of the film is its characters that cross all facets of small-town life. You have the prodigal son in Gorka coming back to the small town where there is a lot of emotional baggage that he left behind. You have the Mayor (Ramón Barea) and his wife (Maribel Salas) who are the focal point of the town even though they don’t tend to succeed at much. Then, of course, there are the old guys (Kandido Uranga & Enrique Villén) that spend all their days fighting but secretly respect each other. This creates a dynamic that allows the chaos to run free. But one question, I have watched a couple of Spanish films now and all the mothers kind of act the same way, if this actually a thing or do I just not have a large enough sample size to draw on yet?
it comes to the story it feels like this film is a train wreck but in a good
way. From a simple core idea (we are secretly Swiss) it all spirals out of
control when all the different competing interests start wanting a chunk of the
potential fallout. So this ball of chaos gets effected by secret guns, overlapping
relationships, competing political priorities, and the scourge of Swiss white
wine. Each complication spurs more complications until it all reaches a climax
at the end which got more than a little chuckle out of me.
This is also a film filled with oddness, some of it probably comes from its Spanish setting but not all of it. For example, some characters go the whole film hurting the same specific part of their bodies, like fingers being stuck in doors. Also, there is this moment that whenever the spy character Fernando (Pêpê Rapazote) is on screen they play the James Bond chord progression. They are 100% not subtitle about its use, but also from the credits they didn’t clear its use, so I think someone might be getting an angry email tomorrow. It also is a film that intersperses bombings with comical piano music and that is an interesting choice, to say the least. But then it ends with the whole cast singing a song about Switzerland that might be the most charming thing I have seen all year.
In the end, do we recommend The Little Switzerland? Yes, yes we do. It is a fun little film about a snowball of chaos rolling down a hill and turning into an avalanche. It has great characters, an interesting story and scenario, and it was full of the oddness that helps a film like this shine.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
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or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Little Switzerland
Directed by – Kepa Sojo
Written by – Alberto López, Daniel Monedero, Jelen Morales, Sonia Pacios & Kepa
Music by – Tiago Perestrelo & Nacho Mañó
Cinematography by – Kenneth Oribe
Production/Distribution Companies – Nadie es Perfecto, eOne & Netflix
Starring – Jon Plazaola, Maggie Civantos, Ingrid García Jonsson, Secun de la Rosa, Lander Otaola, Mikel Losada, Ramón Barea, Kandido Uranga, Enrique Villén, Maribel Salas, Pêpê Rapazote, Karra Elejalde & Anabela Teixeira
Rating – Around an Australia: M;