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Author Topic: The Backwoods / Bosque de sombras (Koldo Serra, 2006)  (Read 8515 times)

Paul

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Anyone else seen this-Spanish made thriller? Well, I say Spanish-made, it’s actually a Spanish/French/British co-production but I won’t confuse matters; as it turns out, the financing isn’t the only baffling element of this flick.

Watched a legit Thai DVD and bought the flick on the strength of it starring Gary Oldman and Paddy Considine: even though I had read very disparaging remarks from the latter on the forum of his fan site. The combination of that pair with Virginie Ledoyen (the Natalie Portmanalike of THE BEACH) and her pair was too much to resist…

Flick concerns a couple (Considine and Ledoyen) who are out in deepest, darkest rural Spain, on their way to meet his former work colleague who has just renovated his ancestral home. Within no time, Considine has wound up the locals and his gorgeous wife has titillated them. But while the film sets things up to lead the more seasoned of us to believe that this is an homage to Peckinpah’s STRAW DOG, things take a swift turn when Oldman and Considine happen across a young girl being held captive in a derelict farmhouse…

BACKWOODS is a much uninspired film that takes elements of classics such as SOUTHERN COMFORT, DELIVERANCE and the aforementioned STRAW DOGS and comes up with very little that is either new or original. What emerges from this mess is a film that is more akin to the likes of WRONG TURN and soon degenerates into yet another flick with hillbilly rapists and people being chased through woods… in the rain.
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Vito Cipriani

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Re: Backwoods (Koldo Serra, 2006)
« Reply #1 on: 07 Feb 2008 - 00:40 »

Funny you should mention this, Paul. I bought the Thai DVD last week and watched the movie tonight; I imagine that my response is almost the complete opposite of yours--I really enjoyed it.

Some of the dialogue fell flat, and I think that by and large this was due to Ledoyen and Sanchez-Gijon's dialogue being too sculpted and lacking any sense of spontaneity: in particular, Ledoyen seemed to be performing as if she was in a Harold Pinter play, with... meaningful pauses... before random... words. However, this issue to one side I enjoyed just about everything else about the movie, so I'm more than willing to forgive those foibles.

I've pasted the below from the notes I took in my diary:
Early in the movie, Gary Oldman's character asserts that 'There are only hunters and prey: that's the only fucking truth in this world', and at the core of the film is Paddy Considine's transformation from 'prey' to 'hunter'. There's a lovely moment at the end of the film in which our sympathies are questioned, and much like the climax of STRAW DOGS we're asked to question the myth of violence as an index of masculinity.

The English tourists are painted as colonisers who don't understand the community that they're interfering with; where the girl they think they're rescuing is physically handicapped and is as much a victim of the tourists' pity and 'cultured' sensibilities as she is a victim of her imprisonment by her family, the tourists themselves are handicapped by their lack of cultural understanding. This is a point that is hammered home near the end of the film: Virginie Ledoyen yells at Considine, telling him that 'You don't understand', and Considine responds by asserting that he finally 'understands'; then Considine, who does not speak Spanish, is asked by a local (in Spanish), 'Do you understand?' Of course, Considine may think he understands, but he does not: he doesn't understand the language or the culture. The gender conflict is clearly delineated too; both of these thematic areas are underscored by the use of Leonard Cohen's 'There is a War' ('There is a war between the rich and poor, a war between the man and the woman'). It's a strong and pertinent message for our time: don't patronise and interfere with or take selfish pity on cultures that you can't fully comprehend. (Even Oldman's character, who has old family ties with the community, struggles to fully understand the situation until it's too late.)

I loved the film's focus on the culture clash between the locals and the tourists, and the selfconscious play on the imagery of the Western genre. It's a very pomo film in a lot of ways; the idea of setting the film in 1978 (although the trailer states that the film is set during 1976--did you notice that?) meant that there was no interference from the mobile telephones and laptops that seem to crop up in just about every genre film nowadays--a particular bugbear of mine. (There's nothing less cinematic than watching someone sending a text message on a mobile telephone or typing away on a laptop.)

Serra's handling of narrative isn't brilliant: there were perhaps too many stops and starts for my tastes (for example, there's an interminable conversation between Ledoyen and Considine that seemed to stop the film dead in its tracks). However, there's an interesting theme bubbling away in this film which, for me, made it more than just the sum of its parts (i.e. more than just a pastiche of STRAW DOGS or DELIVERANCE et al).

Cheers,
Paul
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Paul

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Re: Backwoods (Koldo Serra, 2006)
« Reply #2 on: 07 Feb 2008 - 09:02 »

I can see what you're saying, Paul; there is definitely an emphasis on the culture clash aspect which is well handled but there were too many things that just didn't gel for me; Your comments regarding Ledoyen and Sanchez-Gijon are spot-on; Considine's considerable talent (check out the films he made with Shane Meadows and Pawel Pawlikowski for what I believe to be his best work) is squandered in a role that should have had a lot more of an emphasis on his transformation of character.

...I did notice the discrepancy in the timeline between the beginning of the flick and the trailer and like you assumed that the events unfolded in the seventies so that Oldman and co were unable to utilise present day technology.

I think my biggest bug-bear is that there are obvious parallels with better films and much of it just seemed to under-developed.
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Vito Cipriani

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Re: Backwoods (Koldo Serra, 2006)
« Reply #3 on: 07 Feb 2008 - 10:10 »

I can see what you're saying, Paul; there is definitely an emphasis on the culture clash aspect which is well handled but there were too many things that just didn't gel for me; Your comments regarding Ledoyen and Sanchez-Gijon are spot-on; Considine's considerable talent (check out the films he made with Shane Meadows and Pawel Pawlikowski for what I believe to be his best work) is squandered in a role that should have had a lot more of an emphasis on his transformation of character.
I was a bit disappointed in the lack of attention that was paid towards Considine's transformation from 'prey' to 'hunter' too: it almost seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. Some of the exchanges between Ledoyen and Considine seemed dry and felt almost like we were watching a recording of a rehearsal. (For the most part, they were meant to be awkward; but that aside, they seemed poorly staged--for example, the conversation that takes place on the bed during the first night.) The discussion of Ledoyen and Considine's child, which seemed thematically important in light of Ledoyen's un-maternal attitude towards the child that they 'rescued', was also under-developed. Considine's performance was far from the kind of performance we've seen him give before, but I think this was due to Serra's direction more than anything else.

Ledoyen has a reputation for being something of a prima donna who doesn't take direction well, so I wouldn't be surprised if Serra found her a little too much to handle.

I was really impressed with Lluis Homar, though. He managed to invest pathos in a role that could have been little more than a stereotype.

Cheers,
Paul
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Paul

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Re: Backwoods (Koldo Serra, 2006)
« Reply #4 on: 07 Feb 2008 - 10:41 »

Lluis Homar's performance was great; there was certainly more depth to his character than any other in the film, IMO. Oldman was good—but again—had very little to work with. As I mentioned in my opening post, Considine is embarrassed by his performance in the film and from what I remember, a lot of the key players had a tough time making the film; he didn't go into much detail but he did maintain that Serra was a nice guy; reading between the lines, the film was probably abused at an executive level. Considine mentioned there were only two positive things that came out of the experience of making the film; working with Oldman and writing the script for his short film—DOG ALTOGETHER—during the production. Oldman was apparently instrumental in him getting it together to start work on DOG ALTOGETHER.

You're completely right about the subplot involving the death of Considine and Ledoyen's child; yet another strand of the film that seemed undercooked and almost completely unexplored.
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Paul

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Re: Backwoods (Koldo Serra, 2006)
« Reply #5 on: 07 Feb 2008 - 10:45 »

Although the main thread seems to have vanished from the site, there is a DVD-related thread that's still on the Paddy Considine fan site, including some comments from the man himself here.
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Vito Cipriani

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Re: Backwoods (Koldo Serra, 2006)
« Reply #6 on: 07 Feb 2008 - 15:14 »

Although the main thread seems to have vanished from the site, there is a DVD-related thread that's still on the Paddy Considine fan site, including some comments from the man himself here.

I'll check that link out. Thanks for that, Paul  ;)

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Paul

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Re: Backwoods (Koldo Serra, 2006)
« Reply #7 on: 07 Feb 2008 - 15:34 »

You're welcome, Paul. I sent Gareth (Paddy Forum administrator) a link to this thread, so that he could see your positive--and very well articulated--comments, mate.
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Paul

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Re: Backwoods (Koldo Serra, 2006)
« Reply #8 on: 11 Feb 2008 - 13:10 »

This gets a UK DVD release on 19th May, courtesy of Momentum Pictures.
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Mart85

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The Backwoods / Bosque de sombras (Koldo Serra, 2006)
« Reply #9 on: 24 Jul 2008 - 21:05 »



Didn't know where to stick this.  Anyway this caught my eye in HMV today.  Anyone seen it? Can't go wrong with Oldman and Considine, right?
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MikeMalloy

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Re: The Backwoods / Bosque de sombras (Koldo Serra, 2006)
« Reply #10 on: 24 Jul 2008 - 21:33 »

Mart, I think that film gets touched upon in this RITUALS thread, which ended up being a general thread for backwoods movies:

http://www.lovelockandload.net/forum/index.php?topic=1216.0
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Mart85

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Re: The Backwoods / Bosque de sombras (Koldo Serra, 2006)
« Reply #11 on: 25 Jul 2008 - 08:48 »

Cheers Mike.  I missed that thread.  There's a few more films I want to check out now.
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Paul

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Re: The Backwoods/Bosque de sombras (Koldo Serra, 2006)
« Reply #12 on: 25 Jul 2008 - 09:46 »

Merged topics - I started one a while ago. I didn't like the film, to be honest (see above), though there were elements that were okay.
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Mart85

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Re: The Backwoods / Bosque de sombras (Koldo Serra, 2006)
« Reply #13 on: 25 Jul 2008 - 09:54 »

Cheers Paul.  rFrom yours and Vitos comments it sounds like it's worth renting.
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Paul

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Re: The Backwoods / Bosque de sombras (Koldo Serra, 2006)
« Reply #14 on: 25 Jul 2008 - 09:56 »

Cheers Paul.  rFrom yours and Vitos comments it sounds like it's worth renting.

I would definitely rent it before buying it, mate.  :D
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"Allow me to explain. Your mother is a whore, your father is a damn thief, and your grandfather is a notorious fag... and as for your sister..." - Yodlaf Peterson
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