Review: The Fury of a Patient Man – Tarde para la ira (2016)

The Fury of a Patient Man – Tarde para la ira (2016)

Directed by: Raul Arevalo | 92 minutes | drama, thriller | Actors: Antonio de la Torre, Luis Callejo, Ruth Díaz, Raúl Jiménez, Manolo Solo, Font García, Pilar Gómez, Alicia Rubio, Gaizka Ardanaz, Luna Martín

After serving eight years in prison for a failed robbery of a jewelry store in Madrid, Curro wants to start over with a clean slate. In the meantime, his girlfriend Ana has given birth to their son and has been waiting for him. But as soon as Curro is released, he notices the strange presence of another man. This José seems to be very present at the places where Curro’s lovers gather.

The Spanish ‘The Fury of a Patient Man’ begins with a messy robbery, in which Curro (Luis Callejo) is the driver of the getaway car. When the robbery goes wrong, he’s the only one arrested. He is the only one of the couple to be sentenced to eight years in prison. Eight years later, we see José (Antonio de la Torre), at first sight the opposite of Curro, a friendly, quiet man, decisively ordering a cafe con leche from the handsome waitress Ana (Ruth Diaz) in a typical Madrid neighborhood cafe.

Ana is not only Curro’s girlfriend, but also the sister of the owner of the bar, Juanjo. Leading up to Curro’s release, she grows increasingly anxious at the prospect. With her son and job, she has enough balls to keep in the air, without also having an ex-convict with loose hands in the house. Then the mild-mannered José takes a stab at her attention, with success. Something blossoms between the two, and Ana is too preoccupied with her own problems that she hardly wonders why José is acting in such mysterious ways (or why he actually has that creepy beard, and wears very old-fashioned clothes including big white underpants). In the first scenes of the film it is still unclear to us viewers exactly how the fork is in the stem, but a little later it turns out that not Curro but José is the ‘patient man’ from the English title. The original title is ‘Tarde para la ira’, which literally translated means ‘An afternoon of frenzy’. It starts when José appears to have an apple to pick with Curro; together they end up on a dark trip back in time, in which the tension builds up to a surprising and blood-curdling denouement.

The film is increasingly turning out to be a revenge film with old-fashioned features; but is also more than just that. The supporting roles are too captivating for that, but also human; the setting is always beautiful and detailed: from the house party in honor of the first commune of Juanjo’s daughter to the village square in a small village in Segovia, where the two men look for one ‘Julio’ and two elderly ladies give a hilarious explanation how many Julios they know in the village. A few loose ends in the storyline (Ana is very naive, isn’t it strange that her phone has suddenly disappeared?), are quickly forgotten in the suspense. And besides biting nails and laughing at the characters, we are also forced to think about the meaning of the ubiquitous Spanish male frenzy in the film.

Director Raúl Arévalo grew up in his parents’ bar in Madrid and, in his own words, drew inspiration from various places close to him. The raw streets of a working-class neighborhood in the Spanish capital and the countryside around Segovia are the setting for the film. And as we already know from various Spanish thrillers (‘La isla mínima’, ‘La noche de los girasoles’), the Spanish countryside often has little to offer in films; so here too.

‘The Fury of a Patient Man’ is the directorial debut of Arévalo, who is known as an actor from ‘La isla mínima’, among others. The thriller, with elements of the seventies crime films and at times the western (the close-up of José’s eyes as he takes up the gun for his ultimate revenge act) has rightly been awarded with four Goyas (main Spanish film awards).

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