One year after Medem came to the spotlight with Vacas, he made The Red Squirrel, a deceptive film about love, sex, paranoia, mystery, violence, and existence. Complex, fascinating, and worthy of many viewings it is a film which marks Medem as a special talent, but which will probably confuse and annoy the average movie-goer with its interesting take on story-telling, heavy imagery and colourful symbolism. Jota is a young Spanish man, on the literal brink of suicide. A failed musician and lover who sees no future, he stands on the top of a bridge and prepares to jump. From nowhere, a motorcyclist appears, and races off the bridge, crashing heavily below. He goes to the wreckage while an ambulance is called and sees that the rider is a beautiful young women. When he goes with her to the hospital he says he is her boyfriend so that he can stay with her. The doctors say she will recover, but that she has suffered total amnesia. The doctors hope that Jota will be able to awaken her memories, believing he is her boyfriend, so he goes to her and acts the part. She does not remember, but they leave together. Jota decides to invent her life and their past, calling her Lisa, making her into his old girlfriend, Vertigo style and she goes along with it. Soon they are in love, and they decide to go on holiday to the Red Squirrel camp site. However, there both Lisa and Jota’s motive’s and pasts become less clear as fragments of memories blur with the present, and startling imagery surrounds them. They meet a family at the camp and spend time with them. They have their own problems which gradually rise into view, and Lisa acts strangely around them, in a powerfully erotic manner towards their son, and as a strong-willed women to their daughter. Soon a mysterious man appears who claims to know Lisa, and the lies soon begin to fall apart.
Did Lisa know all along that Jota was lying, so she could escape the past? Was Jota trying to pave over the mistakes of the past, or did he have more sinister plans? And who is this new guy? The film descends into surrealism with funny parts, and plain, mind-bogglingly absurd scenes before coming to a close. There is much visual invention throughout the film, which becomes chaotic towards the climax, with that inexplicable ‘3rd arm punch’ being the highlight. There is a tone of mistrust and paranoia throughout the film- we don’t trust any of the characters just like they do not trust each other. Apparently Kubrick felt this was one of the best films he had ever seen, and it has much in common with much of his work, both visually and thematically. It draws more comparisons clearly with Vertigo, showing the same attention to symbolism which can be discussed till the end of time. Emma Suarez is perfect as Lisa, one of the best Spanish actresses alive, and Novo is also excellent as the plotting, pity-inducing and paranoid Jota. The only real faults to be found are that it maybe moves too slowly, will deceive everyone, and that the main part of the film is such a jigsaw that the makers and the audience have difficulty trying both to decipher everything in the last part and have a suitable ending. Not everything is answered, but that is the way it should be, and while the ending is satisfying, there is always that lingering suspicion in our minds that the story is far from over.
Not many exciting extras on the DVD, just trailers and film notes.
Feel free to comment on my review and the film- what did you make of the ending and the motivations of Lisa?