The Shepherd (El Pastor) – Film Review
Director: Jonathan Cenzual Burley
Writer: Jonathan Cenzual Burley
Stars: Maribel Iglesias, Miguel Martín, Alfonso Mendiguchía
Anselmo is a simple man in his mid 50s living in Spain. He lives without any form of technology, no TV or telephone. He has a small house and some land, where he tends to his sheep by day. His only companion is his dog, Pillo. Some say he is a bit slow, but he just enjoys the quiet life. He reads literature and visits the local library to get more books each week. One day he is visited by two business men in a Jeep. They talk of plans for the future. They intend to build a housing estate in the area, along with sporting facilities. They need to buy his plot of land and are willing to pay over the odds to get what they want. But does Anselmo want the change this would bring to his quiet life?
This film is written and directed by Jonathan Cenzual Burley. Trivia fans will note he started his career as a junior researcher on ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’! Since that time he has directed such films as ‘The Soul of Flies’ in 2011 and ‘El año y la viña’ in 2013. This new feature marks his biggest release to date and has received much praise, winning Best Film, Director and Actor at Raindance 2016.
The film focuses on the outside pressures that try to force Anselmo’s hand. The other land owners in the area are desperate for this development to go ahead. Some are in financial difficulties and need to force the deal through, with Anselmo the obvious spanner in the works. They start to pressurise him to sell his home, to suit their own ends.
The film has some luscious cinematography with shots of the wide open landscape which he inhabits. It has a slow pace and there is much repetition in the plot, as the locals meet and try to coerce him to sell. There is a surprise waiting at the end, and it alters the tone of what has gone before, making you re-evaluate what you have seen. Miguel Martín is a study of inner calm in the role of Anselmo. It is a mood piece that you need to relax into, but is well acted with a spark of originality at its core.