In Your Absence / En Tu Ausencia (2008) Film Review

Directed by Ivan Noel

In Your Absence, or En Tu Ausencia, is a surprising first-time effort by director Iván Noel that emanates beauty in more ways than one. Set in a pristine stretch of Spanish countryside, In Your Absence is filmed amidst a breath-taking setting full of enveloping blue skies, abundant sunflowers, flowering fields, and rolling hills. The film’s backdrop defines “summer” in its absolute perfection, and the pairing of fine-tuned imagery and diverse, mood-setting music makes the film both an aural and visual delight.

Young actor Gonzalo Sánchez Salas fills a heavy role with ease. He plays an emotionally-enclosed 13-year-old named Pablo whose father has recently passed away. Naive and vulnerable, Pablo has become a bit of an outsider in his own town since the tragedy, and he has only his mother and one friend. So, when a foreigner’s car unexpectedly breaks down, Pablo befriends him, despite the numerous warnings from the villagers telling him to do otherwise.

In Your Absence is a film that is powered by unpredictable human interactions. Noel manages to keep viewers captivated by dropping hints about, rather than flatly stating, definitive characteristics of the film’s three main characters, and this slow reveal keeps a rather slow-paced film brimming with tension. One constantly wonders what each character will do next, and often wonders wrong. A million possibilities are hinted at for every subtle action, making In Your Absence suspenseful in an unpredictable way.

With so many possibilities looming on the horizon, the most crucial point of In Your Absence lies in its conclusion, and it doesn’t disappoint. Everything makes perfect sense at the end — a comfortable resting place for a film with a plethora of acceptable endings.

Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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