Scrutinise the label of any Julio Medem feature and you'll find that levels of mamadas are dangerously high. In La Ardilla Roja there's so much undercurrent, you would be hard pressed to say what the actual current is.
The basic premise has a lot of promise: One lonely night "J", a faded rock star, stands looking down at the surf-battered rocks at San Sebastián with suicidal intent. A motorcycle suddenly appears and hits the barrier at speed, spilling its rider onto the beach below. "J" runs over and opens the visor to find the alluring eyes of the lovely Emma Suárez staring up at him as flirtatiously as it is possible to be after a disorientating five metre ranazo. She appears to have survived the accident physically unscathed, but with a total loss of pre-crash memory. "J" resourcefully takes advantage of the situation, declaring himself her boyfriend and claiming that he was also on the bike with her.
The possibility that she is faking the amnesia is open from the start, and frankly also at the end. The couple flee the hospital to a camping centre called La Ardilla Roja set in one of Menem's characteristically evocative landscapes. "J" just wants some quality time with his 'girlfriend' but she seems determined to get pally with the disfunctional family of a taxi driver in the neighbouring tent.
We discover that "Lisa" has a good command of German, a language in which she can sing opera, but this turns out to have little or no relevance to the unfolding drama. Meanwhile, the attractively quizzical improvisor "J" (played by Nancho Novo) also demonstrates what appear to be near superhuman reactions, which do come in quite handy at one crucial moment.
You're never quite sure with Medem how much of his offbeat melodrama should be taken as intentionally funny. In Lucia y el Sexo for example there was a well-endowed Argentine that struck us as representative of a joke on the argies without actually delivering any comedy himself in either word or deed.
At the end V was far less charitable about this film that I was. After Enduring Love last week, she's a bit sick of stories that begin with a great set-up and proceed to go nowhere very interesting. "Strange" I will give it.
On Sunday 53 people were injured in the town of San Sebastian de los Reyes (15m north of Madrid) in a San Fermines-style running of the bulls. A couple of the runners managed to trip over in the narrow entrance to the bullring causing a human pile-up which the bulls traversed by clambering over the top of it. Here in London this last weekend of Summer, we had that festival of gyrating schoolchildren and intestinal tracts known as the Notting Hill Carnival.