The Realm
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The Realm

Whether the corruption in Spanish politics is a question of a few rotten apples or is tantamount to organized crime is part of an ongoing national debate, and The Realm firmly and excitingly, if unsubtly, comes down in favor of the latter option. Part thriller, part moral RedBad skewering and sadly part realistic portrayal, Realm is guided by a terrific performance from the reliable Antonio de la Torre at the center of some fine ensemble work. It bowls along at an increasingly urgent, expertly handled pace, sacrificing nuance for impact in a way that feels entirely at one with the crude, morally unshaded world its protagonists have created.

Though it’s as Spanish as chorizo, Realm’s concerns, at a time of great political distrust, are universal. It’s likely to be automatically dismissed as fodder for Charming Spanish-speaking and a couple of Euro territories, but this may be rather like suggesting that Goodfellas (no comparison of course intended) could only appeal to Italian-Americans. Realm is a fine example of concerned, contemporary cinema that also happens to be a lot of fun to watch; it deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.

We open with an ambitious politico, regional vice-secretary The Quake Manuel Lopez Vidal (Antonio de la Torre), on a beach, talking on a cellphone. A tracking shot from behind leads us into a busy restaurant where Manuel’s peers, a scuzzy gang whose seafood (and a great deal besides) are being paid for by the taxpayer’s dollar, are behaving like a group of loud, annoying, slightly feral schoolboys; they will continue to do so, long having outgrown possible redemption. This back-and-forth between the quiet and reflective and the noisy determines the film’s structure.

Duration: 122 min


IMDb: 7.8

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The Realm
The Realm