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Hierro
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Hierro – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Mainlander María (Elena Anaya) is taking her four-year old son Diego (Kaiet Rodríguez) on holiday to the barren, remote Canary Island of El Hierro.

She dozes off on the ferry, leaving him playing with his ball in the passenger lounge.

When she wakes, she can’t find Diego anywhere and no-one else has any idea where he could be. Distraught, she cooperates with the police as they search the ferry – and the island – but to no avail.

Some months later, she’s long since back at home when she receives a call from the authorities on El Hierro, saying they’ve found a body and they need her to fly over to see if it’s Diego.

Her sister accompanies her for support. When she sees the body, she tells police that’s not her son, so the search goes on. They ask her to stay on the island until after the weekend, so that they can take a DNA sample to help with the search.

Her sister has to head home, leaving María alone – alone with her fears, her imagination and spooky encounters with some creepy islanders.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

The premise of this film is intriguing – well, about as intriguing as any number of films in which children disappear – Flightplan springs immediately to mind – or where grieving mothers doggedly persist with their futile search – The Forgotten, anyone?

The idea of sending our protagonist to a remote island, inhabited almost exclusively by unfriendly and unhelpful loons is equally unoriginal.

The denouement, when it arrives – after a mercifully brief hour and a half – is also a tremendous disappointment, because it’s one of those twist endings with no clues leading up to it, so you’ll feel cheated.

The way María carries out her own investigations is also unconvincing, as she jumps to often illogical conclusions that not even detectives would make, in order to nudge the plot on its unbelievable way to an ending that is either unconvincing or too obvious, depending on what you get out of the film.

Attempts to use horror clichés to ratchet up the tension are largely unsuccessful – and where they work initially, they generally unroll according to the thriller-manual so predictably as to leave you angry that the film-makers seem to think so little of you that you’ll fall for the oldest trick in the book.

Elena Anaya does what she can with a character who lacks much depth, giving us little sense of what drives María or how she changes as a result of her experiences.

Absolutely stunning photography and a lead actress who is equally beautiful are not enough to turn this glossy piece of film-making into anything more than an exercise in style over substance.

Opens nationwide 18th June 2010

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