El Mar review

Three childhood friends, who witnessed atrocities in their Mallorcan village during the Spanish Civil War, find themselves reunited in a tuberculosis sanitarium a decade later.

Francesca (Torrens) is now working as a nun, Manuel (Bergonzini) seeks solace from his sickly condition in God, while new inmate Ramallo (Casamajor) is keen to get back to his smuggling ring. As the conditions of Manuel and Ramallo deteriorate, however, forbidden feelings become dangerously inflamed...

Director Agusti Villaronga has no fear of addressing big themes - death, religion - and he proves adept at conjuring up a febrile atmosphere in this homoerotic melodrama. The setting of the remote TB clinic allows for the cast of beautiful young men to be mysteriously decimated by an unseen enemy.

The unknown male leads deliver coiled performances and the bodily-fluid-soaked climax feels dramatically justified in the context of all those repressed yearnings.

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