Spanish filmmaker Félix Viscarret, known for tackling such heavy subject matter as the Basque conflict (“Patria”), crime in the Cuban capital Havana (“Four Seasons in Havana: Winds of Lent”) and psychological drama (“Staring at Strangers”), has made perhaps his most personal film yet with a touching and engrossing story of fatherhood and the pitfalls of success.
In “Not Such an Easy Life,” 40-year-old Isaías (Miki Esparbé), a once promising young architect, is struggling to balance career and family, wanting to raise his young children while desperate to achieve the fleeting professional success he once enjoyed as he strives against more ambitious rivals.
For Viscarret, Isaías’ challenges very much reflect his own experiences, which resulted in “Not Such an Easy Life.”
“Perhaps it was a cluster of special situations that I began to live with as a parent,” he tells Variety.
“For example, one day I saw all my childless friends leave for a premiere party, while I drove home with my children to put them to bed on time. On the way my children fell asleep. I had to haul them home from the car, without waking them, crossing pedestrian crossings at night,” he says. “The city was empty at this time of night. And there was something funny, but also beautiful and endearing at that moment. As if there was something of loss and epiphany at the same time. I was saying goodbye to an era, and at the same time assuming my place in the world.”
The film, he notes, is “for when you go through life with your tongue hanging out; you see how professional projects are going to be carried out by someone younger and more successful than you, and in the park your children pay no attention to you. At night you have a hard time falling asleep because this is not the life you imagined having after 40. This is a not-so-simple life.”
He adds: “Many people ask me if this is my most personal film, if the protagonist is a bit of my alter ego. Well, I would say that I am like one of those guys who go to the psychologist and tell him that they want a consultation but that it is not for themselves but for ‘a friend.’”
The film, which Viscarret also wrote, co-stars Álex García, Ana Polvorosa and Olaya Caldera.
“Not Such an Easy Life” follows closely the release of Viscarret’s previous film, the psychological thriller “Staring at Strangers,” which premiered in October at the Valladolid Film Festival.
“They are projects of which I am very fond and I have dedicated work and passion to them at different times. Then life, with a pandemic and with actors’ agendas involved, has made them almost coincide in time. But you love your children as they are, each one for their virtues and personality.”
Viscarret has also recently directed the new series “Galgos,” said to be about a wealthy Spanish clan but definitely not to be seen as a Spanish “Succession,” as its producers recently told El País.
For his part, Viscarret is more tight-lipped about the forthcoming Movistar+ show.
“I don’t like to talk about projects ahead of time. I’ll just say that ‘Galgos’ is the amusing and ironic story of the decadence of a family dynasty and it’s written by two dramatists, a filmmaker and a screenwriter, whom I already admired for their work. Add to that an absolutely dream cast and it becomes a passion project in every way.”
Sold internationally by Latido Films, “Not Such an Easy Life” screens in competition at Spain’s Malaga Film Festival.