Tuesday, October 6, 2020

100 Metres

Inspirational stories can help pick us up and maybe help appreciate that others might have things a bit rougher than ourselves.  Looking for something to relieve my Covid-19 boredom I came across a Spanish movie on Netflix about  a man who is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and goes on to tackle a very demanding Triathlon.   Based on a true story (otherwise not so inspiring).  Two relationships are at the core and others play a role in the culmination of a measure of success.  We also gain an insight into how MS can affect not only the victim, but also the family.
It starts out innocently enough with the protagonist, Ramon making a triumphant business presentation and phoning his wife to celebrate.  Looking forward to a Sushi dinner he learns his father in law, Manolo has had an accident and requires attention that shifts the celebration.  We learn right away Ramon doesn't get along with his father in law, but while there, a hole in the roof yields another bit of falling plaster and it is decided he has to go home with his daughter Inma.  Twice we see slight physical problems with Ramon's inability to tie his shoelaces and having trouble controlling chopsticks.  The roof cave in and the physical difficulties turn out to be two premonitions.
 
Once Ramon is diagnosed with a relapsing form of Multiple Sclerosis Inma who is pregnant is very supportive saying at different times they were diagnosed and  both will have to make whatever decisions have to be made.  We get a brief description of Multiple Sclerosis of the relapsing type.  
 
But the father in law is still living with them and is at best marginally supportive.  The two men often go together to do Ramon's therapy and chores.  At an exercise session Ramon spots a poster for an upcoming triathlon and decides that is his goal.  At first Inma is reluctant, but in the end she agrees and she insists that her father be his trainer. 

 Manolo had been a phys ed instructor for over 40 years and even had one major athletic success but does not seem the part.  We soon learn he is a pot smoker, even growing marijuana and is very cynical.  Instead of starting off at the gym or with some road work Ramon begins with gardening chores reminding one of "The Karate Kid."  Training is very improvised with Manolo deciding three legged running and jumping through tires would help.  At one point he asks Ramon what MS is like in his head and the viewer is treated to a dizzying spin on the edge of a precipice over a really beautiful valley. 

Ramon learns by accident that the reason the roof caved in was Manolo in despair after his wife's death, had tried to hang himself.  Manolo expresses his view of life as a degenerative disease with no cure.  Things nevertheless are going smoothly until Ramon decides to set Manolo up with a widow, Noelia they had encountered on the beach during training, but that upset the father in law who was still grieving his wife.  Manolo breaks their training agreement, but they still eat at the same table.  Eventually Manolo does get together with Noelia after some help from Ramon who gave a very personal unique gift to his father in law.

Humorous dialogue abounds, but the language is not suitable for young children and includes a few scatological references.  The two men, the heart of the film, begrudgingly come to respect one another.  In a clinic setting Ramon meets with other patients where dark humor and morbidity is sometimes contrasted with positive thinking.  One patient explains that the disease is your best enemy as it forces you to change your whole perspective.  The title comes from a patient who says that in a year Ramon will not be able to walk 100 meters.  Later Ramon watches 100 meter Olympic race and comments it is not that far.  But when he has a relapse he needs to be rescued by his wife when attempting to walk 100 meters in city traffic.

Ramon ha a constant limp and suffers intermittent muscle contractions mostly in his hands, but also his legs.  He has switched medicine and undergoes physiotherapy inducing hydro therapy.  He persists in his running, swimming and cycling.  Eventually we get to the big event and we learn there is 17 hour limit which Ramon requires while his wife, son, baby, wife, father in law and Noelia watches right up to the very end.

A good story is only as good as the presentation.  The "100 Meters" team won an ensemble award meaning the cast was very strongly supported by a capable crew. 

Portuguese producer Tino Navaro has directed,/written scripts, produced and acted in movies covering  Portuguese, Spanish and English.

Barcelona born director and writer, Marcel Barrena has been involved in Spanish television and cinema winning national awards from the beginning.

Rodrigo Leao has composed music mostly for Portuguese television and cinema and has won regional and international awards.  North Americans are most likely to have heard his music with "Lee Daniel's The Butler" (2013.  )The background music includes some gentle pleasant piano.  The end credits includes a beautiful song written and performed by Amaia Montero.

Xavier Gimenez, also born in Barcelona and returns to his home town for this film and although it does not emphasize the main touristy shots is an interesting city nonetheless.  The shot of Ramon spinning Manolo on the edge of a giant rock over a beautiful valley is spectacular and will leave you a little woozy. He has had a number of top movies "The Liberator" (2013), "The Invisible Guest" (2016),  Palm Trees in the Snow (2015), His music has also been heard in movies with Hollywood stars including "Agora (2009), "Transsiberian (2008) The Machinist" (2004 ) and "Red Lights" (2012).  "The Invisible Guest" is a classic and been remade, check out:   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/09/a-masterpiece-film-and-very-good-remake.html

 The editor, Nacho Ruiz Capillas has tracked a lot of the same movies as Xavier, but also includes  "A Twelve Year Night"(2012)  "The Education of Fairies (2006).  Check out:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/05/a-twelve-year-night.ht

 Karra Elejalde plays the gruffy father in law.  It was he who suggested Dani Rovira for the lead role and they obviously have good chemistry.  He appeared in "Even The Rain" (2010) and "Biutiful" (2010).

 Dani Rovira played Ramon from a range from despair to light hearted husband, father and son in law.

Alexandra Jimenez plays Inma and won a best supporting actress award for this film.  Her role is the link between her father and her husband who dislike each other.  She pulls them together whenever possible.

Clara Segura plays the doctor who gently explains MS to Dani and his wife.   She appeared in"The Sea Inside" (2004), an all time favorite that inspired a popular blog.http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2013/10/paralyzed-men-in-4-foreign-movies.html

Ramon doesn't win the race, but does conquer his goal.  At the end we learn he went on to complete another one and also several marathons.  During the end credits we see a photos of the real Ramon along with his wife and father in law and children.  After a three year break he relapsed. The point of the movie is his achievement.

Take a look at a trailer with English subtitles.   A brief glance at the valley shot--much more in the movie itself.  You may have to click on another link, but it is safe.   https://www.imdb.com/video/vi324056601?playlistId=tt5089786&ref_=vp_rv_ap_0

The film is dedicated to the hundreds of thousands who suffer from multiple sclerosis.  The Spanish Neurological Society awarded the film for its contributions to Multiple Sclerosis.  I forgot to mention that MS Canada is my number one charity. 

 If you are ready to donate you can do so here






The bolded titles are of films I have seen.

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