Reviews Short Narrative

Fuggirò Tanto Amore (2019) – 4.5 stars

Director: Raúl Lorite

Writer: Raúl Lorite

Cast: Laura Martínez, Hugo Rubert, Aitor Caballer

Running time: 9mins

One of the hallmarks of a filmmaker who is brimming with confidence is their willingness to take their time. If they have enough confidence to allow their story room to breathe – and for the audience to slowly come to terms with a few well-executed details, rather than bombarding us with input – it can yield a beautifully measured, well-rounded piece of cinema. Raúl Lorite’s meditative short Fuggirò Tanto Amore is a beautiful example of this.

The film centres on two students as they relentlessly rehearse a song by Italian composer Luca Marenzio, from which the film takes its name. Álex (Hugo Rubert) and Diana (Laura Martínez) clearly have a close friendship, and freely banter with each other as they return to her apartment, only to discover that they will not be rehearsing alone. Héctor (Aitor Caballer), Diana’s boyfriend, is there – and Álex instantly tenses up in his presence. Each member of the cast delivers is exemplary in their embodiment of their character – from Rubert’s wide-eyed shock to Martínez’s caring and outgoing approach, to Caballer’s stoic and ambiguous demeanour – and every one of them deserves high praise for the coming scenes.

While the exact details of Álex and Héctor’s relationship is never clarified – if indeed there is anything at all between them – Lorite feeds our curiosity throughout the film. After initial awkward small-talk, the pair stand in silence simply looking at each other, leaving us to wonder what has prompted this speechless fascination with one-another. Initially, heteronormative stories we are trained to believe are natural leave us believing this tension is surely the result of pent-up anger, and a bubbling undercurrent of implied violence illustrated by a distaste of the more masculine Héctor for the diminutive Álex. However, as the wordless fascination clearly goes both ways, with Héctor unblinkingly staring back, seemingly undisturbed by the attention, a far more interesting alternative begins to take shape.

After Álex and Diana retire to her room to practice, their initially excruciating rendition of Fuggirò Tanto Amore only improve upon Héctor’s intervention. After what seems like hours of the pair mewling “Fuggirò…” before frustratingly petering out, the song (which Diana informs us is “designed for three singers,” but they are tackling as a duet) tellingly comes alive when Héctor enters the room to answer his phone.

Having disturbed the session, Diana punishes her partner by making him listen to the singing – something he does with little protestation. At first, things continue as before, until Héctor and Álex’s eyes come together again – causing the latter to immediately fluff his lines. Héctor makes his excuses and leaves the pair to their work, but something about the brief encounter seems to have led Álex to some greater understanding of the piece – seemingly through a greater understanding of himself.

Suddenly, the subtitles of the singing are transcribed into English (and presumably Spanish in the film’s native market) having previously only appeared in the original Italian. It’s an ingenious mechanism, which allows us to come to a moment of clarity with our lead character. We finally realise just what Álex has been singing – and perhaps we can see why he might have finally been able to get through it.

“I will run away from so much Love,
That the passion will dilute,
Flames and the chains,
That hold this soul in so much pain.”

Whatever Álex’s prior relationship with Héctor may or may not have been, he has evidently come to know himself better in this moment. He can embrace the words which sing of running away from love, because he can relate to them. He has lived it, either in some unspoken past-life with Héctor, or in this recent drawn-out and silent encounter, where his unwillingness to accept his attraction to Héctor has left him unable to say anything to him.

At the same time, while in more conservative cinema you might have expected that if Diana were to pick up on this, she would be jealous, or even hostile, here it seems the opposite is the case. While again we are left wondering just how much she knows, and what there is to be known, she evidently can see her friend is facing some kind of internal struggle, and behaves supportively in the moments leading up to his realisation. Perhaps this is as important a moment to Álex as his moments with Héctor – an affirmation that as he confronts his sexuality, he has a friend he can trust in.

I have to admit, I was worried approaching the half-way mark of this nine-minute film that the filmmakers were about to throw every available piece of exposition and the kitchen-sink at us. So many times, an artist second-guessing themselves will panic that they have not given the audience enough to keep them engaged – especially when half your film consists of a single, untranslated line of poorly delivered opera – and instantly seek to deliver us heavy-handed closure, with a ham-fisted message to boot.

Certainly, it is a little testing to be subjected to the same “Fuggirò, Fuggirò…” on repeat, but there is still so much wonderful, nuanced subtext to get your teeth into here that you would need to be the coldest-hearted cynic, or the thickest-skulled philistine to complain. Thanks to Lorite’s hands-off approach, what could have listed into the soapy and the melodramatic is instead a subtle and delicately balanced coming of age story, depicting a pivotal moment in a young man’s life.

It’s hard enough to take a less-is-more approach over the span of a feature narrative – but the world of short film is even less forgiving if the patience and discipline it takes to do that are lacking. In Raúl Lorite’s case, while the slow-burning approach Fuggirò Tanto Amore might divide some opinion, he has demonstrated the self-assuredness necessary to truly master his craft.

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