By Rich Cline | May 21, 2002

Metaphysical Spanish filmmaker Julio Medem is back with another gem (see also “The Red Squirrel,” “Tierra,” “Lovers of the Arctic Circle”), and this timeit’s a slightly less surreal story. But that’s not to say it’s simple.
Lucia (Paz Vega) is a young woman on the run from her chaotic life. She hides out on a remote island and tries to put everything back together. Flash back six years to Madrid where she falls in love with the novelist Lorenzo (Tristan Ulloa), who has a secret past involving a holiday romance with Elena (Najwa Nimri), which produced a daughter he never knew about. As the threads of the past, present and future unfurl, everyone is drawn to this mysterious island to sort their lives out once and for all.
Yes, the story cycles around, curling back in on itself, but it does so in such a lovely way that we can’t help but go along for the ride. There’s an emotional resonance here that is stunningly authentic, brilliantly capturing on-screen the joys of physical love and attraction. The script, direction and transparent performances from the entire cast all work together beautifully to help us feel what these people are going through. Even if the oblique storytelling and obvious symbolism leave us a bit cold, the plot does make sense on a basic level, tying up all the loose ends and helping us understand all of the characters and their emotional responses to what happens to them.
Medem has once again crafted a complex, ethereal film that’s both delicate and earthy, full of memorable imagery, gutsy performances and unforgettable, haunting themes.

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