The Year and the Vineyard/El Año y la Viña ***Dir: Jonathan Cenzual Burley. With: Andrea Calabrese, Fede Sanchez Garcia, Javier Saez. 75 mins. Cert: 15
Idiosyncratic indie rover Jonathan Cenzual Burley here follows 2011’s droll road movie The Soul of Flies with an absurdist diversion that might legitimately have been pitched as Bill and Ted’s Land and Freedom: the tale of a beardy International Brigade recruit (Andrea Calabrese) who tumbles through a rip in the space-time continuum and winds up in latter-day Salamanca. In a pointed inversion of comic form, it’s the moderns who prove more guileless, credulous Catholics who need reminding of their country’s hellish past to better appreciate the present; meanwhile, the blast-from-the-past wanders this striking landscape, haunted by frankly gorgeous memories of a now-lost love. Burley’s gentle sensibility doesn’t so much gnaw on the funny bone as nuzzle it affectionately: his latest reminded me of Hal Hartley’s The Book of Life – which had Jesus and the Devil show up in pre-millennial Manhattan – while translating that film’s cool anomie into a fresh, playful, increasingly affecting bonhomie.
The Year and the Vineyard opens in selected cinemas from today.