Starring: Raúl Arévalo, Inma Cuesta, Candela Peña
Director: Álvaro Fernández Armero
Running Time: 104 mins
Sidetracked (Las ovejas no pierden el tren) is a Spanish film about the lives of three couples, from their romantic escapades to family troubles as they try to seek some stability in their lives.
Although it features a collection of fairly level-headed and likable leads, there’s something about Sidetracked that just feels really rather dull to me. Occasionally devoid of reality with its melodrama, and occasionally trying to make something out of nothing in its screenplay, the film lacks the narrative consistency and emotional depth to prove in any way engaging, only being saved by the odd good laugh and a group of strong lead performances.
Now, as has been proven a million times before, a great romantic comedy is really hard to get right. There are classics in the genre, but too many take an overly ambitious or frustratingly vague approach to what can actually be a very simple premise, and that’s unfortunately the case with Sidetracked. While it may have the good intentions of most romantic films, it attempts to give an overarching perspective on love and everything about it in the space of just over an hour and a half, an impossible task that’s made all the more difficult by poor writing.
If the film had a more incisive and dramatic emotional core in the vein of something like Stuck In Love, then its ideas about love may have proved rather more interesting. On the flipside, if it started of with a slightly more light-hearted approach and endeared you to its characters before moving into some of the more serious stuff, then I’m certain the film would have been both more enjoyable and more interesting.
Unfortunately, Sidetracked is a film with too much ambition for its own good, frustratingly weaving between the lives of its three main couples in search of allegories for the struggles of life and love, but instead comes up feeling very forced with its attempts to build serious and thought-provoking drama out of very little.
The only saving grace for the film comes in the form of its lighter side, but even that doesn’t quite work given how out of place it all feels in comparison to the more serious drama. While there are good laughs, I’d be reluctant to even call this a romantic comedy – which is what it’s marketed as.
Look to films like When Harry Met Sally for how to make a funny, light-hearted movie that also had great dramatic depth and genuinely thought-provoking ideas. Sidetracked, for all is attempts to emulate that, just doesn’t pull it off particularly convincingly.
And with a screenplay and direction that do leave a lot to be desired, much of the burden for the film falls on its lead cast, who do as good a job as possible to give it some good, cinematic energy and entertainment value.
While the characters are far from the best you’ve ever met, the leads all put in likable and genuinely entertaining performances, with Inma Cuesta and Candela Peña in particular proving the film’s most engaging personalities. What’s more, the six leads all have good chemistry with one another, and work well to make those central romantic relationship as convincing as possible – even if that isn’t quite enough to make the film anywhere as interesting or impacting as it aims to be, and that’s why I’m giving Sidetracked a 6.7 overall.