'Second Prize' is a (worthy) film about The Planets

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'Second Prize' is a (worthy) film about The Planets

“This is not a film about The Planets” says the tagline with which 'Segundo Premio' has been promoted, the latest film by Isaki Lacuesta and Pol Rodríguez ('Quatretondeta'), winner of the Biznaga de Oro for Best Film at the Malaga Festival. The reason for choosing this phrase may be to justify the narrative licenses that the filmmakers will have taken when transferring this story to the screen, but the truth is that for practical purposes, we are completely faced with a film about Los Planetas, the mythical Spanish band which emerged in the mid-90s with a sound that reflected very well the international trends of the moment, but that was tremendously new on the national scene.

It is quite complicated to catalog Isaki Lacuesta's cinema, since in each project the filmmaker seems to detach himself from everything used in the previous one and tends to renew himself both in substance and form. The intimate drama set in the Pyrenees of 'The Next Skin' has little to do with the portrait of the indelible consequences of the terrorist attack at the Bataclán theater in Paris that 'One Day, One Night' depicts. 'Segundo Premio' once again distances itself from its predecessors by offering a kind of biopic about the origins of the Granada group, focusing specifically on the creative process of their third album, 'Una Semana en el motor de unbus'.

The film shows a critical moment for the band, when the bassist decides to leave the group to focus on her studies and the guitarist finds himself involved in a self-destructive spiral of drugs and alcohol from which he cannot escape. Lacuesta and Rodríguez mainly focus on reflecting the friendship and respect that these people have for each other, even if there are decisions or attitudes that the protagonist cannot understand or that give rise to heated discussions. In a way, it is a film about understanding and, above all, about the power of the creative process.

Daniel Ibañez and Cristalino give their characters truthfulness, offering interpretations that elevate the moments in which the film declines, since although it is narrated with an agile rhythm and a palpable passion for what it is telling, there are narrative passages in which stagnates. More daring would have been good for a film that often plays it too safe, following an excessively conventional structure. It is true that for much of the footage it works effectively, but it ends up being a portrait that is as entertaining as it is ultimately forgettable.

The narrative wear and tear is particularly noticeable in a third act that fails to end the odyssey at a memorable point. Even so, 'Second Prize' is not at all negligible, as it has attractive sequences, an interesting story behind it and, of course, a great soundtrack, but it would have needed a little more of that rebellion and outburst that has led to Los Planetas so far.

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Simon Müller

Simon Müller is the driving force behind UMusic, embodying a lifelong passion for all things melodious. Born and raised in New York, his love for music took form at an early age and fueled his journey from an avid music enthusiast to the founder of a leading music-centered website. Simon's diverse musical tastes and intrinsic understanding of acoustic elements offer a unique perspective to the UMusic community. Sporting a dedicated commitment to aural enrichment and hearing health, his vision extends beyond just delivering news - he aspires to create a network of informed, appreciative music lovers. Spend a moment in Mueller's company, and you'd find his passion infectious – music isn’t simply his job, it’s his heartbeat.