DRAMA; 2hr 23min (Spanish with subtitles)
STARRING: Nerea Camacho, Carme Elias, Mariano Venancio, Lucas Manzano
Heaven knows: Camacho
In the opening scene of this lengthy, lavishly emotional, events-inspired hankie-wringer from Spanish film-maker Javier Fesser, 14-year-old Camino (Camacho) is dying in a Pamplona hospital. Six months earlier, Camino was a chirpy 13-year-old Madrid fifth-grader with a bubbly love of drama, an innocent crush on a boy (Manzano), an intensely pious Opus Dei mother (Elias as Gloria; Venancio is Camino’s loving but blessedly toned-down dad) and a cancerous tumour on her spine.
As a fanatical Gloria invokes the love of Jesus at every possible opportunity, her daughter fades like a trouper, retreating into vivid, surreal and sometimes terrifying dreams. Her mother’s influence on her can only be a matter of speculation: Camino could be destined for sainthood, yet while her faith seems profound, the closing scene is ambiguous. In any event, as the stricken girl, Camacho has a light, sweet spirit and a lioness’s courage. To soldier with her through the steps of Camino’s slow decline can’t help but raise pressing questions about the imponderable nature and power of belief.