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FILMS / REVIEWS Spain

Review: Pullman

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- Toni Bestard takes us on a journey to the hidden side of Majorca which, up until the pandemic, was – and it’s hoped it will return to be – hugely popular with tourists

Review: Pullman
Alba Bonnin and Keba Diedhou in Pullman

It’s worrying, to say the least – and maybe a bit ironic – watching a film like Pullman [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
at a time of a global health crisis and forced confinement, and when tourism is in unquestionable freefall. Toni Bestard’s third film (his second, the documentary I Am Your Father [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, directed together with Marcos Cabota, was nominated for the Goya Award) offers up a bleak picture of Majorca, the paradise which, in summer in particular, fills with Europeans in search of sun, parties, alcohol, beaches and all the other temptations on offer on the wondrous, beautiful Balearic island. What we see in this film, however, is anything but charming, enticing and effusive. And to heighten the contrast, the camera positions itself from the innocent and unwitting perspective of two immigrant children.

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These are the protagonists - one of them a Muslim and the other hailing from Eastern Europe - of Pullman, a film which derives its name from a hotel which was luxurious, once upon a time, but which is now a crowded apartment block where both the youngsters’ families live. Nadia and Daren are special children: sensitive, smart, different and, above all, curious, restless and intelligent. When they’re presented with the opportunity to leave their natural habitat so as to explore other areas of their city, they jump at the chance, embarking on an adventure which only last a few hours, but which changes the way they see the world around them.

Much like Alice in Wonderland (though there aren’t any wonders gracing the landscape of this particular feature film, an unbelievable fact for anyone familiar with Majorca), the children meet with a series of characters who are a far cry away from fairy godmothers, more closely resembling wicked witches of the west. The cheery yellow brick road followed by Dorothy is conspicuous by its absence in the closed-up mansions, the half-built buildings and in the other gloomy places which this pair of candid souls explores in search of a mysterious light they see shining in the distance. Transvestites, drug addicts, a sad clown and a handful of paedophiles all shatter the innocence of these two pure beings, who will return to their homes – as happens in every coming-of-age film – with their personalities changed.

Although this feature film doesn’t have the visual range (nor the commanding presence of a fabulous Willem Dafoe) of The Florida Project, Sean Baker’s wonderful work which the present work is occasionally reminiscent of, it successfully conveys the spiritual desolation mentioned at the beginning of this article, reminding us that -  as the present is cruelly demonstrating - paradise is nothing but a fragile human construct.

Its screenplay written by the director in league with Arturo Ruíz Serrano (El destierro [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
), based upon the short film The Journey (2002), also by Bestard, Pullman is produced by Singular Audiovisual, Toni Bestard PC and IB3 Televisió. The film participated in the 21st Abycine’s Official Selection, closed the 8th Evolution! Majorca International Film Festival and was crowned Best Feature Film at the Majorca Film Prize. It was released on Filmin last Friday 24 April.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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