Still from The Realm

Film Review: The Realm

This Spanish thriller explores political corruption. Based on a real case, it won a swag of Goya Awards.

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It is no wonder The Realm won seven awards at the 33rd Goya Awards; this on-the-edge-of-your-seat film is fast paced and well directed, with roles finely cast. Written by Isabel Peña and Rodrigo Sorogoyen, The Realm typifies the reaction of corrupt politicians caught in a scandal exposed by the media.

Someone must take the fall and the party decides that the someone is Manuel, played by Antonio de la Torre; he is regional vice-secretary of the party and popular with the people. Within days, Manuel’s path as potential successor of the party is destroyed as the media reveals him as the corrupt politician he is; undeterred, he wants to take the party down with him. He refuses to comply with the party decision of being the sole fall guy.

For anyone familiar with the Gürtel case, which exposed the layer upon layer of corruption and bribery embedded in Spain’s political system between 1999-2005, it is well portrayed in this film. The real and justified fear for safety that Peñas and his family would have felt once Correa and his party associates were exposed is paralleled by Manuel and his race to collect and reveal evidence throughout the film.

Although one feels some affinity towards Manuel in the film as he becomes truly humiliated and friendless, one cannot help but also be enraged by him. The reality is up until now he has been complicit and was aware of all dealings in the party, that he and his family have thoroughly enjoyed the rewards of corruption in the party and, he is only truly coming clean as he is desperately trying to save himself.

Antonio de la Torre as lead actor has been in the film industry for over two decades, The Realm is his and director Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s second film together, both having worked together previously in 2016’s May God Save Us, also an award winning film.

The Realm won Best Director, Best Film, Best Original and more at the 33rd Goya Awards and first screened at the Toronto International Film Festival 2018.

Fast-paced and finely wrought 4 stars

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