THREE AND A HALF STARS When her parents die, a young girl is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in rural Spain.
Laia Artigas, Paula Robles
DRAMA Spanish Language #SUMMER1993
Frida is a troubled young girl, and with good cause. Following the death of her parents, she’s sent to live with her aunt, uncle and toddler-cousin on their farm in rural Spain. Stricken by the turbulence that’s turned her life upside down, she is nothing if not a handful for her new carers (yet care they do).
So starts this compelling biopic from first time helmer Carla Simón, one which recounts her own life in the early 1990’s. It’s a story that deftly balances atmosphere (which the Spanish location offers in spades) and emotion (which Frida’s resilience serves up in joyous and painful ways) to create a portrait of longing for what was, and for what can be.
Memoirs are frequently undone by mawkish sentimentality and self-indulgence, two things that can not be levelled at Simón whose clarity, both as a writer and director, makes this an honest and engaging story. And it’s that clarity that also marks this as a deeply personal account, notably when it meanders away from the over-arching narrative, which it frequently does. That said, the narrative is little more than ‘lost girl finds herself’ which makes the meandering both welcome and absorbing as they seek to reveal Frida and her new family.
How much you enjoy SUMMER 1993 will depend entirely on your affection for and relationship with the young girl. Such challenging circumstances don’t always bring out the best in a person, certainly not a six year old, and Frida is no Disney angel. Nor her new parents for whom the struggle to adjust, to welcome and love their ‘new’ daughter, is not easy. That is the point of course, and nothing that Simón shies away from. It’s one woman’s account of one girl’s pain and grief, and the way in which she rises above it all as few adults could.