Spain’s official entry for best foreign language film at the Academy Awards, “Flowers” is the first movie submitted in the Basque language, a beautiful tongue unrelated to Spanish, and of uncertain linguistic origin.
But there is more that is strange and lovely about this film. Centering on a mysterious regular delivery of flowers to a woman named Ane (Nagore Aranburu) by an anonymous person who may or may not be a co-worker she barely knows (Josean Bengoetxea), the film at times has an air of magical realism. A sheep appears, twice, initially leading to the co-worker’s accidental death, and then years later, to an implausible-sounding but utterly believable meeting between Ane — who has since become obsessed with the dead man, Beñat — and his widow (Itziar Ituño).
What sense can be made of this? Plenty.
The film is a poetic meditation on love, pain and memory, all expressed through the metaphor of cut flowers. In a conversation shown in flashback, Beñat tells Ane that she has to trim the ends of a bouquet before putting them in water. “The cut needs to stay open?” Ane asks. Yes, Beñat tells her: “If you want it to last longer.”
Nothing terribly much happens in “Flowers” but the passage of time. Over the course of five years, Beñat’s mother (Itziar Aizpuru) sinks into dementia; Ane comes to her senses; and Beñat is slowly forgotten. Yet the movie, for all its uneventfulness, is intensely memorable.
Unrated. At the Avalon and Landmark’s West End Cinema. Contains a car accident and a dead body. In Basque with subtitles. 99 minutes.