April 30, 2018  (Web Review)

The Red Squirrel

Olive, 114 min., in Spanish w/English subtitles, not rated, DVD: $24.99, Blu-ray: $29.99

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

This 1993 second feature from Spanish filmmaker Julio Medem (Sex and Lucia) serves up a dense game of cinematic delight. Depressed pop star Jota (Nancho Novo) is jolted out of a suicide attempt when enigmatic motorcycle-riding beauty Sofia (Emma Suarez) crashes through a guard rail and he accompanies her to the hospital. She rouses from a spectacular wreck with amnesia and he spins a fantasy in which she is his old girlfriend. Sofia chooses to play along as her memory comes back. The complex weave of lies, deceptions, and past lives keep bubbling to the surface and take on a life of their own as they “recover” together at a remote campground, with a kind of seduction playing out—until a maniacal ex-boyfriend (Carmelo Gómez) comes searching for Sofia. The Red Squirrel is a witty Spanish melodrama with a twist of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, as well as mock-documentary inserts on the mating habits of the endangered red squirrel that serve as a wry running commentary on the games people play. Recommended. (S. Axmaker)