I recently watched the film Por un Puñado de Besos (2014) written and directed by David Menkes and based off of Jordi Sierra i Fabra’s novel by the same name. It is a Spanish film which follows the lives of two young people who fall in love despite one of the two being HIV seropositive. The film stars Ana de Armas, who plays Sol and Martiño Rivas, who plays Dani. I adored the film (so much that I actually watched it two days in row). The film’s style and overall aesthetic is absolutely beautiful, not to mention the writing and the music that adds to romantic and hopeful feelings that flow through the film. Despite the film being about such a heavy topic, with a character who is dealing with a very scary situation, Por un Puñado de Besos is a very much a “feel good film” about the beauty of falling in love.
The feeling of hope serves as a life force for the entire film. It is through the characters that the film is able to portray the desire to pursue complete and carefree happiness. The two main characters are fantastic. They are strong characters who both serve a purpose in the film. Neither Dani nor Sol are in any way boring. They are intriguing characters with well written storylines, who the viewer feels inclined to root for. Sol, for starters, is the light in the film. She is always shown smiling and living her life to the fullest. She doesn’t allow her sickness to rule over her. She is an optimist, and where there is an optimist, there is a pessimist and that is Dani. Dani (without spoiling the film) has a lot going on under the surface. He is seemingly always in his own head. As I see it, he is, in a way, kind of lost. However, Sol is able to bring him into her light and they change each other’s lives by allowing them to truly understand what life is really all about.
Ana de Armas and Martiño Rivas are impecable as Sol and Dani. Their chemistry oozes off the screen. The pair have worked together in the past (El Internado: Laguna Negra, 2007-2010, I highly recommend it) and the bond that they share is apparent as you watch the film. This chemistry and comfortability between the two create fireworks as we watch these characters fall completely in love. In a movie that deals with such serious and underrepresented topics such as HIV/AIDS, it would be easy for the film to become quite depressing; however, the film manages to have a wishful and jovial atmosphere by way of these characters, and in turn the acting.
The style of the film is stunning. By using split screens and superimpositon the film is able to show two parts of the action at once. In this film, these kinds of shots were often used when the characters were trying to figure things out, whether it is in relation to their relationship or their own personal lives. There is one section of the film (this starts around 1:11:57) where Dani and Sol are each on one side of the screen as they wander around the streets of Madrid contemplating their lives as they currently stand. Although it is mildly unconventional to use a split screen for such a duration of time, I loved this sequence. It allowed me to really feel each character’s inner turmoil as the hours and days passed on each side of the screen. Not to mention, it simply just looks very pretty. Also the colors in the film were beautiful. There were tons of pinks and oranges, which are warm colors, during the happy and romantic scenes. Green was often around in parts of uncertainty or sorrow.
All in all, I highly recommend this film, especially to those who may enjoy a love story. The acting, directing and the story are very enjoyable. I can guarantee that these characters will make you smile.