The Offering

It was a hazy, crazy, carefree summer of sunshine and passion and defiance, of abandon and abandonment, Violeta having fled her family in the midst of a row with her sister and father on the back of Jan’s motorcycle only to wake up one morning to find he was gone. Those days of playing in the sea long since passed, twenty years later the waves still reach the shore.

Now a psychiatrist whose smile hides the emptiness she feels, Violeta successfully maintains the façade of happiness for her husband and two young children but life is interrupted by the arrival of a new patient, Rita, who says her own happy marriage has suddenly come adrift with the discovery that her husband, Jan, is obsessed with another woman he once knew whom he has been stalking; Rita has not come for herself so much as to let Violeta know.

Directed by Ventura Durall, in the hands of Pedro Almodóvar The Offering (L’ofrena) would have been a riotous tragicomedy of colourful characters; instead, the profound loss floats adrift upon a sea of deception, deflection, half-truths and outright lies, though as the beset Violeta, caught between comfortable misery and an impossible unfinished affair Anna Alarcón reminds of the great Carmen Maura.

Alarcón also has the advantage of a strong resemblance to the waiflike Claudia Riera who plays the younger Violeta, giving a continuity between the two, while the disparity between Alex Brendemühl’s older Jan and Josh Climent’s long-haired guitar-strumming beach drifter only emphasises that he is no longer the same man that Violeta once loved so completely and profoundly, that person only existing in memories she has self-medicated into oblivion.

Jan inveigling his way back into Violeta’s life, the equally damaged Rita (Verónica Echegui) is his tool while Violeta’s husband Nico (Pablo Molinero) is suspicious as he is sidelined; in the rainy days of the present he says Jan wants forgiveness for the actions of that sunny summer two decades before, to make an offering to her, but can healing her wounds and his conscience be justified if the cost is paid by her shattered family?

The trio of Alarcón, Brendemühl and Echegui giving wrenching performances which rise above the ambiguities of the script by Durall, Sandra Beltrán and Clara Roquet which promises much but does not entirely satisfy, despite its frustrations The Offering is never less than absorbing, a reminder that the past is sometimes best left untouched and that while asking forgiveness can be selfless, forcing it is more likely to be selfish.

The Offering is now in cinemas, virtual cinemas and streaming on demand



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