At this point, it is not necessary to ponder the figure of a filmmaker as solid and committed as Fernando León de Aranoa, who since his surprising first feature film, Family (1995), produced by Elías Querejeta, has developed a brief and careful career, with pieces of exquisite craftsmanship, both fiction films and documentaries. His success with the good pattern, with Javier Bardem in one of his most brilliant roles. Now the new documentary about him is coming to the billboard, Feeling it a lot.
Beyond particular tastes, There is no doubt that Joaquín Sabina has marked an era in the author’s song of democratic Spain. Freed from the obligation to protest in which performers such as Paco Ibáñez, Luis Pastor, Mikel Laboa, Rosa León, Lluís Llach, Elisa Serna or Patxi Andión were placed since late Francoism, Sabina’s career has tuned in with a wide public so sensitive to the suburban chronicles of juvenile delinquency as mature reflections on heartbreak or playful confessions to laugh at oneself. He was also free when it came to drawing on popular Latin American styles such as tango or ranchera. There is a majority opinion that he is the singer with the most careful and creative lyrics of the last decades, true poems set to music; not in vain, in addition to the texts of his records, he has published several collections of poems, among which his collection of sonnets stands out one hundred flying out of fourteen (2001) that reached an unusual circulation, for a book of poetry, in the famous Visor collection.
Feeling it a lot, the film by León de Aranoa, configures a particular strategy of approaching the singer by adopting a calculated distance from the portrait he draws. Avoid biography and filming of concerts, renounce the mosaic of testimonies that give an account of the character and, of course, any form of worship or idolatrous applause. The filmmaker places his gaze/camera from the precise position, very close, but without kneeling for a low-angle view that extols the character, without hiding behind a curtain to catch him off guard or looking over his shoulder, making a show of demystifying a popular figure. . León de Aranoa has taken almost fifteen years, which means that there was no firm plan to make a film: rather it was about following the admired artist to unravel the secret of his creation.
The camera never leaves the singer behind, who appears more time in the privacy of dressing rooms, hotel rooms and the living room of his house than on stages and show spaces. For this very reason, no successful performances or mass baths are shownRather, we see Sabina preparing her throat —too punished by tobacco and alcohol— before acting or struggling to achieve the appropriate tone for a song, with the fear of failure and the fragility that the years accentuate.
So things, Feeling it a lot It is a work of extraordinary truth in the portrait of an artist who, far from setting himself up as a public figure, appears as he is: witty, funny, a friend of his friends, but also excessive in his affections and disaffections., with its incredulous point and “skull”. A bohemian and provocateur, son of a police commissioner, who is moved to remember his father when in his native Úbeda they offer him a tribute and he presents himself with his contradictions, “animal lover, but bullfighting ». Attention to the lyrics of the theme that closes the documentary and gives it its title: a confession by Sabina that she knows she is older and, as she says in the film, in her life she has taken a leap from the unconscious young person to whom “I have always wanted to grow old without dignity”.
León de Aranoa plays that card of emotions well, with the precise point, without exhibitionism, and gives the documentary an unexpected climax with two dramatic events that he witnessed: the fucking of the bullfighter José Tomás in Aguascalientes (Mexico) after having toasted the bull to Joaquín Sabina and the fall of the singer in a concert in Madrid with Joan Manuel Serrat on stage. More systematization, expert analysis or archive images may be missing, but it is a personal profile and very free of a filmmaker who, in the end, seeks nothing less than the secret of creation, investigating inside the lamp of the genius and in the back room of the poet capable of composing themes with which we identify several generations. There is nothing.
Feeling very sorry (Fernando León de Aranoa, 2022)