Carla Simón’s movie “Estiu 1993” follows the story of a young child named Frida who has recently lost her parents to AIDS and is taken in by the family of her uncle. It is a minimalist drama of a childhood that includes loss, change, and happiness. The majority of the movie contains beautiful shots which strongly focus on frank and sincere familial relationships. The authenticity of the movie is particularly notable; it is full of emotions which seamlessly transfer from child to adult.
This movie, in the language of Catalan, contains incredible shots and a simple yet moving story. Other reviewers have criticized the movie for its slowness in the development of the plot. Frankly, I disagree. The speed of the movie is accurate for the story, in which there is truly not much dramatic action. Instead, it is merely a human story of the gradual effects of change and loss. In a similar manner, the viewer’s perspective toward Frida is complicated and often ambiguous. In many scenes, the girl behaves badly to her new family. In some ways, the viewer gets angry with the bratty Frida. But from another perspective, Frida is without her true parents. She is a young child, without a precise comprehension of death or loss. She does not know how to grieve for her dead parents. In one scene, when Frida does not feel loved after being lightly scolded, she decides to run away from home. She says that nobody loves her here. Her adopted sister, who is no more than two or three years old, replies, “But I love you.” These moments possess traces of sadness as well as a childlike humor. The conflicts within Frida, which are also in the hearts of the viewer, stimulate a heartwarming and troubling sensation. Only the best movies are able to incite these sentiments.
In the film’s shots, the houses, nature and clothes are very colorful and lively. For a story about life after the loss of one’s parents, this movie is full of a certain liveliness and healing that only a young child is able to experience. In the entirety of the movie, there is a good balance between loss and new life. This fine line is repeatedly crossed in this masterful movie about familial love and relationships. After I saw this movie at the Latin American and Spanish Film Fest a few weeks ago, I fell in love with it. Unfortunately, the film is difficult to watch through either online streaming or purchase. I recommend Carla Simón’s “Estiu 1993” for lovers of minimalist movies who want a touching story with beautiful shots throughout.