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days of the whale

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‘Days of the Whale’ (Los Días De La Ballena) review: All we need is love (and a little art)

An intimate love story that keeps things simple.

Sometimes just reading what is a movie is about to turn a person off. A love story set against the gang culture of Medellin is one. Who wants to watch another story involving Pablo Escobar? Anyone who decides to pass on Days of the Whale will have made a huge mistake. The Colombian movie is a love story that has nothing to do with drug cartels. The plot is about two young graffiti artists who are falling for each other.

If the movie sounds simple, that is because it is. Director Catalina Arroyave tells a simple human tale that is more about basic human emotions than deeper complexities. The heart of the story lies in discovering love. The audience knows what direction the story is going in. Instead of becoming predictable, it becomes more engaging. It is something most people watching can relate to.

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This is helped by the the two compelling main characters. The first half of Days of the Whale introduce the audience to Cristina and Simon. Cristina comes from an upper middle class family. Simon’s family has less money. Again, it is a basic set up that does not sound interesting. Some movie couples run the risk of becoming too sappy and infuriating. This never happens here. The relationship is very natural and compelling.

The story itself takes a backseat to the what the characters are going through. This may be the most interesting thing about Days of the Whale. The direction and storytelling are very intimate but the plot is little more than a device to move things forward. Days of the Whale is not big on character development (though a strong argument can be made it is a coming of age story.) A conflict is eventually introduced, but it adds little. The movie is a refreshing tale about falling in love. In this case, that is more than enough.

Days of the Whale premieres Friday July 24 in virtual cinemas.

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