Bullet in the Head

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A rigorous stylistic exercise that works better in theory than execution, "Bullet in the Head" hardly offers the sort of thrills its title might suggest.

This idiosyncratic effort from Spanish director Jaime Rosales and distributed by Fresdeval Films forces the audience to suffer through nearly 90 minutes of tedium for very little payoff. The film recently was showcased at the New York Film Festival, with theatrical prospects looking dubious.

Featuring but two words of dialogue, the film tracks several days in the life of a heavyset, bearded man (Ion Arretxe) as he engages in a variety of seemingly mundane activities. These include eating meals and drinking coffee, meeting with unidentified associates, making phone calls, a sexual assignation, etc.

It isn't until he and another couple of men get into a car and drive into France that we begin to get a clue that we are watching the actions of ETA terrorists, with the film's final moments depicting an act of random and brutal violence.

The director-screenwriter has filmed the proceedings as if from the perspective of surveillance cameras, with the silent action frequently seen from a long distance and through windows.

It's an interesting approach, one that emphasizes the banality of this figure who is ultimately involved in a heinous crime, but it proves almost unbearable to endure over the feature-length running time. While one can admire the decision to approach the subject matter in elliptical rather than exploitative fashion, the end results don't justify the means.

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