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Spanish director David Trueba's award-winning picture Bienvenido a Casa a.k.a Welcome Home (2006) reminded me a lot about Cesc Gay's similarly-themed En la ciudad a.k.a In the City (2006). Both films juxtapose comedy with social-drama hoping to convince their audience that there is enough in the lives of disillusioned twenty-something Spanish couples worth capturing on film. Yet, after ninety minutes of over-used clichés I was anything but entertained. In fact, I was bored to tears.
Eva (Pilar López de Ayala) and Samuel (Alejo Sauras) have just moved to Madrid hoping to further strengthen their relationship. He is a photograph at a local newspaper, she is a musician. He is committed to his new job, she is carrying his child and ready to reveal her secret. When she finally does things take an unusual turn.
Choppy, monotonous, and substandard are the terms which come to mind after my viewing of Trueba's latest. An uneventful film with few, if any, redeeming qualities is indeed what I had to endure. And frankly I am more than surprised that Welcome Home managed to gather such a talented pool of actors.
The source of all evil as it seems is the fact that none of the main protagonists are convincing enough. None of their dilemmas, love issues, or desires are presented to the viewer in a manner separating Welcome Home from most episodic soap operas seen on cable TV. Half-developed subplots, meaningless dialogs, and an abundance of relationship clichés (the battle of the sexes has never looked more boring) drags this Spanish production at an unnerving pace.
Since Trueba has proven much more successful as a writer (Perdita Durango; Vengo) than as a director (Soldados de Salamina) pic's unevenness is truly surprising. In all fairness aside from a few genuinely hilarious scenes, partially justifying pic's promotion as a comedy, Trueba's script simply does not deliver what an engaging story requires.
On a positive side cinematographer Juan Molina (The Two Sides of the Bed) keeps pic from collapsing entirely with an elegant camera work devoid of flashy cuts.
In 2006 the film won the Silver Benzaga Award for Best Director (David Trueba) at the Malaga International Film Festival. In 2007 the film was nominated with Goya Award for Best Original Song (Andres Calamaro, Javier Limon, David Trueba).
How Does the DVD Look?
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and enhanced for widescreen TVs the DVD appears to have been sourced from a PAL print. As a result there is a good dose of "ghosting" which you will be able to notice. Contrast and color-reproduction are also partially affected and those of you with high-end set ups will likely be annoyed by the occurrence. The rest of the presentation appears to be in check: the actual print is in healthy condition, lacking damage, debris, or dirt.
How Does the DVD Sound?
Presented with a Spanish DD track and optional French and English subtitles the audio treatment is acceptable but not impressive. The film boasts an intriguing soundtrack with a title song which has gathered plenty of attention which leads me to believe that the available 5.1 track found on the Spanish disc should have been included. Nevertheless, I have no major reservations as dialog is easy to follow and I could not detect any disturbing hissing/dropouts.
There is absolutely nothing to be found here, not even a trailer.
A disappointing effort by Spanish writer-director David Trueba Welcome Home is far and away from the standards set by his early work. The DVD presentation by Mongrel Media, a company I have come to respect a great deal, is also lacking given the presence of yet another PAL-sourced improper conversion.