It’s often easy to discuss and debate with your friends about what you find attractive and appealing in a potential significant other, and the actions you would take in order to capture their attention. But actively putting that plan into motion, and truly succeeding in emotionally connecting with that person, can often be more difficult and hindering than you may expect. That’s certainly the case with Spanish writer-director Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s new romantic drama, ‘Stockholm,’ which had its U.S. premiere on Monday, March 10 at the Regal South Beach Cinemas, during the 31st Miami International Film Festival. The movie successfully emphasized the amusing and fun exploration of truly getting to know someone you just met, and the difficulties of coping with their emotional baggage once you get to fully know them.
‘Stockholm’ begins with a standard conversation between two male friends in a Madrid night club about, as they discuss their romantic feelings for the same woman. The two finally come to terms about their mutual beliefs on the right way to approach a woman they barely know but are attracted to. Then one of the men, who’s only known as He (Javier Pereira), becomes enchanted by a stranger, only referred to as She (Aura Garrido), who walks past him. He pretentiously and forthrightly professes to her that he fell in love with her at first sight. While She initially rejects his advances, He insists that she She give him a chance.
After He turns down an offer to continue partying with her friends, He follows her as She sets out to walk home. The two subsequently embark on an intense discussion on life and love on the city’s deserted streets. The edgy, independent-spirited young woman questions him about his real motives for his persistent interest in her, and he finally proclaims his interest in having sex with her. The two hint at their personalities and their preoccupations with true love, leaving each other to question how they truly feel about each other.
The script for the romantic drama, which was co-written by Isabel Peña, perceptively and intuitively captures the fears and hesitations many people feel as they first meet someone they’re instantly physically attracted to, but don’t know much about. As He and She leave the club and begin walking home together, Pereira truly captures his character’s assertive in uncovering her true personality, despite his weariness of fully emotionally committing to someone he just met.
The more He pushes her to start having fun and lower her inhibitions, the more She skeptically questions him about his past encounters with women, and his true motives in getting closer to her. Garrido assuredly verbalizes the doubts of apprehensive young women who are targeted by more confident men who are used to getting their way. While She begins to appreciate his humor and willingness to do anything to prove that He truly is interested in her as the night continues, the screenwriters subtly infused the script with elusive undertones that the two characters are keeping each other at an emotional bay.
The romantic drama expertly and wisely doesn’t feature a clear-cut protagonist or antagonist in its story. It instead sensibly created two clearly damaged main characters who are continuously contending with their mistakes and leeriness of truly letting someone in, even though they don’t have any true desire to divulge their secrets and suspicions to anyone else.
Director of photography Alex de Pablo vigorously highlighted the emotional struggles He and She are contending with through his prominent and memorizing cinematography. De Pablo skillfully captured the initial strong physical desire between the two characters as they walked around the deserted Madrid late at night. The wide-open streets prompted temptations of romance and the endless opportunity that they could achieve anything they wanted together.
Sorogoyen and Peña effortlessly and resourcefully created a relatable, intriguing dramatic romance that undoubtedly explored the intense initial physical attraction and temptation towards a new, mysterious person who isn’t so ready to let anyone in. But ‘Stockholm’ realistically eases into the heartbreak many people begin to feel once they truly get to know the other person, no matter how long they’ve known each other. The gripping and powerful performances by both Pereira and Garrido, which naturally intertwined with the riveting cinematography by de Pablo, truly emphasize the script’s important message that you truly don’t know someone until you’ve undergone a traumatic bonding experience together.