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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » La Vida Que Te Espera
La Vida Que Te Espera
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // Unrated // December 6, 2005
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Svet Atanasov | posted January 3, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
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The Film:

Set in the rural mountains of Cantabria, Northern Spain La Vida Que Te Espera a.k.a Your Next Life retells the story of Gildo (Juan Diego) his two daughters Val (Martha Etura) and Genia (Clara Lago), and an unlikely stranger (Luis Tosar) from the big city who will change their lives forever. Gildo, who owns a small ranch with more than a dozen cows, has been having troubles with one of his neighbors for years. Each year they would compete at the local milking contest, envy each others' cows, and frown at the new European Union regulations limiting the amount of milk farmers from the region can export. During an unfortunate brawl between Gildo and his uncompromising neighbor an old dispute turns into a devastating tragedy- Guildo's neighbor is found dead.

There are some great similarities between Manuel Gutierrez Aragon's Your Next Life (2004) and Christian Carion's Une Hirondelle a fait le printemps a.k.a The Girl from Paris (2001). Both films seem to rely on exceptional camera work to build their narratives and simultaneously sneak in a few serious overtones providing much needed weight to their otherwise fairly predictable structures. In the Spanish drama Younr Next Life however the story also offers a great deal of romance which transforms this film into a surprisingly pleasurable journey.

Graced with exceptionally good performances by Juan Diego (Carlos Saura's The 7th Day) and Luis Tosar (Inconscientes) Your Next Life opens up with beautiful vistas from Cantabria quickly switching to the cow ranch where most of this film takes place. While The Girl from Paris to which I compared Your Next Life clearly focuses on the struggle of its main protagonist to reshape her life Manuel Gutierrez Aragon's film follows quite a different direction. The romantic affair between Gildo and Rai quickly becomes the focal point of this rural drama as the suspense which the viewer is offered in the opening scenes does not re-emerge until the surprising finale. As a result Your Next Life successfully evolves from being a social drama to an engaging romantic story with great characters.

Much of the criticism directed at Manuel Gutierrez Aragon's Your Next Life has been somewhat undeservedly fueled, I believe, by the fact that the film is neither a true social drama nor a straightforward romantic story. It seems like those who approached Your Next Life with some specific expectations eventually ended up being quite disappointed by the multifaceted structure of the film. In addition, it appears that the rhythm which Manuel Gutierrez Aragon has adopted for his story seems to lack the methodical intensity from some of the more recent rural dramas produced in Spain (Carlos Saura's The 7th Day comes to mind). Nevertheless, I think that by large the film succeeds in telling a story that is both easy to follow yet quite enjoyable to behold.

I hardly think that Your Next Life will be a profound cinema experience for those of you exposed to a regular dose of contemporary Spanish cinema. Just about all of the main characters have been involved in much more serious and deserving films than Your Next Life (Luis Tosar in particular could be seen in what I consider to be one of the best Spanish dramas to be produced in the last fifteen years- Te Doy Mis Ojos). Without a doubt, however, all of the main characters provide solid performances which elevate this beautifully composed Spanish film amongst some of the more refreshing titles to emerge on the North American film market.

Your Next Life is the winner of the Audience Award at the European Film Awards (2005), and was nominated for Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival (2004).

The official Spanish film site could be found at:
http://www.lavidaqueteespera.com/

How Does the Film Look?

This is one of the few films that I could not manage to obtain upon its release on DVD in Spain and seeing that Lions Gate announced a R1 release was quite a relief. Unfortunately, I am a bit disappointed as it seems that the R1 version is a clear port of the Spanish disc: there is mild to heavy "ghosting" which naturally implies that a PAL port has been used for this disc. This is quite unfortunate to say the least as Lions Gate have proved that they could deliver quality foreign films in R1 land with proper transfers. With this said, everything else in this release appears top-notch: colors are bright and convincing, contrast is excellent, and the print virtually free of any dirt or damage. By all means it seems like the Spanish print Lions Gate have replicated must be in immaculate condition. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and appears enhanced for widescreen TV's.

How Does the DVD Sound?

Complimented only with a Spanish 2.0 Dolby track the DVD sounds fine yet unremarkable. Dialog is crystal clear and easy to follow but I could not help but think that a more elaborate 5.1 track would have been perfect. With optional English subtitles.

Extras:

Aside from a few trailers for other Spanish catalog releases to be released by Lions Gate there is nothing else to be found on this release.

Final Thoughts:

If you liked The Girl from Paris as much as I did then by all means give this film a chance. The performances are great (especially the always impressive Juan Diego) and the camera work splendid. The DVD could have been perfect if not for the PAL-NTSC transfer as the image is virtually spot-on and I would have highly-recommended it. As it is, however, the most I could do for Luis Tosar and Co. is RECOMMENDED.

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