Starring: María Pedraza, Pol Monen, Natalia Tena
Director: Esteban Crespo
Running Time: 105 mins
Amar is a Spanish film about a teenage boyfriend and girlfriend who navigate the difficulties of young love, and despite the strength and passion of their affection for one another, they live in fear of the day that might be their last together.
There’s no story that’s made the big screen more than the trials of love and relationships, and there are few stories more raw and emotional as the difficulties of young love. Amar tackles both head on, with an uncompromising attitude to the realities of romance that make for an undeniably interesting watch, albeit one that does rather lack in cinematic style, as well as in characters as equally engaging as its main themes.
And that’s a shame, because there have been a number of truly brilliant films about the trials of love at a young age – with films through the years touching on both the raw, immeasurable passion of romance at a young age as well as the natural insecurities that come with inexperience.
Amar, as much as it aims to touch on both at the same time, misses the mark as it takes a decidedly pessimistic approach that distracts from its core romantic themes, instead developing into an often dragging and at times frustratingly generic character drama.
That’s not to say the film is entirely without merit. While I wasn’t particularly taken aback by the way it deals with its main themes, it’s a film that does deserve praise for being atmospherically bold, that is being a lot darker and more pessimistic than most films about teen love would ever dare, with bitter emotion that’s often on a level reminiscent of the brutal Blue Valentine.
Of course, the film doesn’t quite go to some of the desperate depths of Blue Valentine, but its main idea is to show the impact of love and romance on individuals, demonstrating that no matter how young, passionate and innocent someone may be, the realities of the world and the difficulties of love are a significant step in becoming a more mature and battle-hardened person.
So, that’s where the film is most interesting, and although it’s hardly a pleasant watch, it does have some engaging dramatic discourse throughout. However, that’s only as an overarching theme, and in terms of how Amar’s drama and emotion unfolds over the course of its 105-minute runtime, things aren’t quite so impressive.
Again, it tries to take a bold approach to its story, using both aggressive, emotional arguments and graphic sex to show that this is more than what teen romance films are often simply dismissed as, but where it really misses the mark is in allowing us to empathise with its two main characters, who unfortunately come across as more anonymous ‘everybodys’ than two unique individuals.
In terms of mirroring a phenomenon in society and humanity, using two characters like that absolutely makes the subject matter more relatable, but in terms of really connecting with the emotion at play in this film, it doesn’t do the right job, instead not allowing us enough time and space to consider the feelings of these two individuals over attempting to relate the drama to our own experiences.
It’s a difficult tightrope to walk for a film like this, and while I’m glad to say that it is a relatable watch, it’s not an emotionally engrossing one, simply because it doesn’t have the innate character intrigue to really grab you at any point, furthered by a cinematic style that prioritises an often overly pessimistic atmosphere over one that doubles down and focuses on the characters in the story we’re following.
Overall, then, I wasn’t overly enthralled by Amar. On the one hand, its bold and often hard-hitting take on young love is admirable, and it does a good job at showing the realities and difficulties of romance at that age. On the other hand, it misses out on telling its own story with frustratingly underdeveloped characters, making for a story that’s difficult to connect with seriously, so that’s why I’m giving it a 6.1.