Saturday, December 10

Félix Viscarret adapts (and convinces) Millás: “If you like cinema, you are, in some way, a voyeur”


When Juan José Millás presented his novel From the shadows (Seix Barral) in 2016 said in almost all the interviews that it was his most political work. He was not in an underlined or obvious way, but in the end he ended up unraveling the miseries of his character, which functioned as a metaphor for a society that he envied, wanted what he had been promised and did not get. The frustration due to the failures of the capitalist system in the form of a character who, after being fired from his job, ends up in a closet spying on a family that has everything he always wanted to be. A bourgeois family like the ones that appear in advertisements, like the one in Family doctor. With his chalet, his teenage daughter… and his secrets.

A novel that did not seem material adaptable to the cinema at first glance. The main character spent almost every page locked in the closet and played everything to his point of view, flirting with surrealism in some escapades in the form of a television interview. Despite this, the producers Mariela Besuievsky and Gerardo Herrero saw a possibility of a film and went for it. The film is a reality, with a different name, Don’t look me in the eye and the work of inaugurating Seminci in the great year of Spanish cinema.

The person in charge of the difficult task has been Félix Viscarret, director of Under the stars and several episodes of the series Homeland. He has achieved the most complicated, that Millás has been happy with the adaptation. It is the third time that a film of his has reached the big screen, but it is the first time that he is really satisfied.


Viscarret is flattered by his words and even blushes when told. He looks back and acknowledges that accepting the commission from the producers was “a challenge, very nice, but a challenge”. “Millás has that universe that is so surreal, sometimes disturbing, sometimes full of absurd humor… So if he considers that the test has been passed, then we are all very happy. Of course, it must be recognized that he must be truly enthusiastic about it because he has seen it many times, ”says the director hours before the opening gala where the film will be seen for the first time with the public.

Besuievsky and Herrero were the ones who called him with the idea, but they knew that they were offering it to a “Millas fan” who felt lucky to receive a proposal to adapt one of his favorite authors. The adaptation “was not easy”. To tell the story of this man who spies and yearns, one had to “be very careful in the point of view.” Choosing “when that first-person point of view was respected and when, in some way, the viewer was going to witness the events almost as a kind of omniscient observer or an invisible observer, continuing with the game of being observed without letting you know.” see, that is one of the themes of the film”. You had to feel what the protagonist felt in the loneliness of that closet. His desire to vampirize a life, to be someone else, to become what was expected of him.

I was fascinated by his novel that desire that we all have to belong emotionally to some family or to belong to a nucleus that welcomes us

Felix Viscarret
Film director

For the director, what is interesting about the writer’s work is how he tells that political message “through the study of the psyche of the human being”. “In this case, I was fascinated by his novel, that desire that we all have to emotionally belong to a family or to belong to a nucleus that welcomes us. And how, sometimes, the hidden side of that coin, but which complements each other, is also that desire to disappear, to be sheltered in a sheltered place, in a place where no one needs us”.

The novel, and the film, also make it clear that people like to watch, the scopic pleasure of seeing what other people do. Hence the success of heart programs, which in some way also stirs up Millás. A pleasure to observe that connects with cinematographic art itself, based on looking at the stories of others on a screen. “I say that all of us who like to make movies and those of us who like to watch movies are somehow voyeurs. And I think that, like all of humanity, they like to see these stories, because the desire to look is so powerful…”, says the director.

At the head of the cast, a Paco León who completely changes register, who looks at the contained drama but who must also have a spark of humor. A being “on the edge of normality”, as Félix Viscarret defines him, and who is always on the edge of the precipice. León’s name came out soon, in the first conversations with the producers. He had “that double face, being able to embody someone very eccentric, who could have a disturbing side and at the same time an almost innate gift for comedy, even if it was a strange and unusual comedy, as is the case here, also being a great performer and a very intelligent person.”

His character faces his own subconscious in the form of interviews, and Iñaki Gabilondo appears there, who plays himself and laughs at his image as a model journalist. Viscarret recounts that they told him: “Iñaki, how well you do Iñaki Gabilondo”. “It’s hard to play yourself, because you see yourself how others see you, and that’s very complicated,” he adds. The decision was clear, if someone chose a journalist to narrate the story of his life “with the greatest journalistic rigor” many would choose Gabilondo. In the film, Paco León’s character was told by his father that “the true Spanish journalist is Iñaki Gabilondo”, and the real Gabilondo lent himself “with humor and irony to laugh at himself, at the image that the public has of the”.



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