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Fire Will Come review – pyromaniac's tale obscured by smoke | Film


It is certainly an ominous title for a movie about a convicted pyromaniac being released from prison and allowed home to live with his mother. Oliver Laxe’s Fire Will Come is a sombre but lovely looking film that makes its own kind of higher sense in the context of climate change – an award winner in the Un Certain Regard at last year’s Cannes. But, as before with this director, I find myself admiring his visual and compositional sense, while being a bit exasperated by the provisional and coyly non-committal nature of his storytelling.

Amador (played by non-professional Amador Arias) is the guy whom we see leaving jail, with officials muttering over his hefty official file and the wildfire he was notoriously found to have set in the hills some years back. He returns to live with his elderly mother, Benedicta (played by Benedicta Sánchez, also a non-professional), in Galicia in north-west Spain, and help her on her tiny smallholding with three cows.

Amador is presumably out on licence and he tells his mother there will be “checkups” on him, but these never happen. There are evidently no scheduled therapy or counselling appointments to prevent Amador reverting to his bad old ways and not so much as a leaflet to take home.

It is a jolt to see Amador lighting his cigarette – and later some local guys jeer at him, asking: “Got a light?” There is a tiny moment between Amador and local vet Elena (Elena Mar Fernández), who knows nothing of his past. But their budding relationship sours when the locals put her in the picture and then a new fire springs up, leaving Amador’s guilt ambiguous.

So what is the reason for Amador’s pyromania? Could it be his alienation from his community, landscape and emotions? Or is he an easy scapegoat for a problem with other culprits connected to global warming? These ideas drift across the screen. There is something a bit unsatisfying about the withheld explanation, but the film’s sheer visual beauty commands attention.

Fire Will Come is released in the UK on 20 March and will be available on the Curzon Home Cinema streaming platform.

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