Grandfathers [Abuelos] — Spanish Film Festival 2023

Review by John P. Harvey.

The problems of friends Isidro, Arturo, and Desiderio may have a common solution.

Isidro (Carlos Iglesias) despairs of ever finding employment again since his latest job “interview”, a series of role-playing group exercises making no sense to him.  His job-hunting becomes even harder when his son, Tomás (Javier Server), relies on him to look after his own son — which Isidro does with some trepidation, recalling little about babies.

Arturo (Roberto Álvarez), a successful author of romance novels whose female readers are convinced he understands them, looks for inspiration from the women he meets in everyday life; but he is having trouble completing his latest romance even on an extended deadline.  The unexpected arrival of his long-alienated daughter, Violeta (Clara Alonso), and her baby in order to learn what may be possible between them adds distraction to his deadline problem.

Desiderio (Ramón Barea) lives alone and has retired from a lifetime of work that he took pride in.  His son, Carlos (Javier Lorenzo), appreciates little of what Desiderio has done for him and mocks his steady career, but increasingly relies on his help.  Desiderio needs something more in his life.

When a workshop with entrepreneurial guru Bruno (Raúl Fernández de Pablo) convinces Isidro that he must create his own career by starting up a business, the three friends take Bruno’s advice and rent a small workspace in a hub for startups and get to work on one idea and another, and the babies they take with them contribute.

But Bruno himself, though a guru in business, is only too glad to catch up with the man who he believes may be able to help him get a girlfriend: the bestselling romance author Arturo.  If only Arturo can persuade Bruno to part with his own wisdom, perhaps they’ll all muddle their way through.

Replete with innocent deceits and guilty honesty, well paced, and well filmed, Grandfathers packs a lot of fun into a film of just the right length.  The three friends are highly likeable, and from start to finish the plot is both believable and entertaining and even includes the odd snippet of sage advice for potential entrepreneurs.

Screening at Palace cinemas.

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