Value of Time the fifth feature film by Spanish director Xavier Bermúdez (best known for Leon and Olvido, which won awards at Tallinn and Karlovy Vary in 2004) screened in the Official Competition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. The film observes human relationships and issues such as aging and passing of time, in an almost off-hand manner, without any big dramatic twists.
The film opens with a title informing us that the main character Alfredo (a convincing Ernesto Chao), a doctor in his sixties, had his deceased young wife Amalia cryogenically frozen many years ago, convinced that one day science would be able to bring her back to life. He keeps the box containing Amalia in a locked room he calls “sanctuary”.
Alfredo now lives with the young and beautiful Corona (a mostly low-key but nevertheless powerful Nerea Barros), who is simultaneously a housekeeper, cook, nurse and masseuse, but it is not clear from the outset what their relationship really is. There is sexual tension brimming, but nothing specific seems to be happening.
The film marks the passing of time by changing seasons, throughout which there are actually barely any changes, until the last winter when the otherwise fit man curiously develops health problems similar to the ones of his only patient we see in the film.
At one point during summer, when Corona is away on holiday, Alfredo is visited by his son (Manolo Cortes), a divorced but joyful man who is completely different from his father. Together they drink and watch old home videos of Amalia, and there is hardly any conflict – they obviously understand each other very well.
Value of Time is melancholic, at times sentimental, and Bermúdez was clearly going for the 'less is more' formula in the film, which prefers to observe human relationships rather than explore them, leaving any interpretations up to the viewer.
Value of Time was produced by Xamalú Filmes, with the participation of Televisión de Galicia.
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