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Here is one of the great films of our first decade – and one of the great film portraits of childhood full stop. Coming at the end of an era when every Spanish film worth its salt was an encrypted dispatch about life under Franco, Cría cuervos, shot the year of his death, beguiles with its evocation of a child’s imagination, and mysterious affinities between mother and daughter. Be warned: it famously leaves audiences as addicted as its young protagonist to the Spanish pop song ‘Porque te vas’.
“An exquisitely made and deeply affecting film, told from the viewpoint of children, which has guilt and trauma running through its delicate veins… Eight-year-old Ana (Ana Torrent) is the middle of three sisters, and we meet her in her well-off and conservative family’s claustrophobic Madrid home just as her ex-soldier father, Anselmo (Héctor Alterio), dies – joining her pale, weak mother, Ana (Geraldine Chaplin, seen in flashbacks), who passed away not long before.
Ana is convinced she is responsible for her father’s death, and we see a number of episodes, past and present, real and fantastical, which sketch her uneasy position in a world where children are party to adultery, patriarchy, unhappiness, conflict and scary raw chicken feet in the fridge. The performances of the children – especially Torrent, who has a haunting, old-beyond-her-years presence – are exceptional, and writer/director Carlos Saura moves us with a gentle, poetic ease through the film’s many complex realities.” — Dave Calhoun, Time Out