Not many people will know what movie Magical Girl is, as most cinema-goers stay away from non-Hollywood films, unfortunately. Therefore, lots of indie, low-budget and foreign movies are quickly forgotten, but every now and then, one of them is surprising enough to be successful. This is the case of Magical Girl, a Spanish drama/thriller that beautifully depicts three different characters that fall into a spiral of blackmail, violence and abuse.
This film tells the story of a father trying to fulfil her ill daughter’s last dream: to obtain the dress of the protagonist from her favourite anime, Magical Girl Yukiko. In order to obtain the money required for it he blackmails a mentally disturbed woman, and that decision will bring into play a retired professor. The different characters and stories blend perfectly, as a puzzle that doesn’t have a single piece missing, into a bigger plot thanks to a meticulous direction from Carlos Vermut. Beautiful photography and a smart screenplay provide all the necessary depth to the picture.
While all the actors and actresses portray their characters incredibly well, the highlight of the movie is clearly Bárbara Lennie, whose portrayal of a disturbed girl with a dark past excels in every way possible. With just a few words she is able to make you understand the difficult position in which she stands and the fear she feels. She won the Goya, the most important Spanish award, for her part in this movie, and she deserved it, without a doubt.
Every scenario feels like its a character of its own throughout the entire movie too. From the white walls of an empty house, to a luxurious mansion, to the typical bar. Simply put, no object is there if it doesn’t serve a purpose. Everything is meticulously placed in order the sets to provide narrative strength.
As the story moves forward, certain parts of the plot are not shown on camera and they work better that way, as each viewer will fill in the blanks to make the scenes as intense as possible, without realising about it. In addition, certain things are cleverly left up to interpretation, enhancing the movie experience overall. It also features some very brave decisions that we aren’t used to in cinema, even if I can’t talk about them without entering spoiler territory.
However, I did have the feeling that some elements of the stories should be explored in more depth, it has a few missed opportunities that could have taken the movie to a new level. It also features some weak and very forced social commentary towards the end of the movie, which seemed not to fit with the style of the rest of the film.
All in all, this is a well directed, technically impressive and unusual film that differs from the cliched blockbusters we are bombarded with in brave, interesting and refreshing ways. A truly magical experience. 8/10