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Novo — film review


I haven’t been very well this week, and as a result, I found some time for film-watching. Novo was on my list of films to catch-up on, and it’s been sitting in my house for a while, so I’m glad that I finally got around to watching it. 

It stars Eduardo Noriega as Graham/Pablo and Anna Mouglalis as Irene, the lovers trying to fall in love despite his short-term memory loss and complicated past. It is so much better than the similar (although simpler) 50 First Dates, I’d really recommend it if you don’t mind subtitles or handling both French and Spanish.

I essentially bought this film as part of a splurge where I bought up a lot of Noriega films that I hadn’t seen before. It promised to be a comedy, but it was more light-hearted, rather than necessarily laugh-out-loud funny. It follows Graham/Pablo who has short-term memory loss after a head injury, and who lives his life according to notes left on his board in work, in a notebook kept tied to his hand, and with a good dose of trust in life and other people, which allows some people (like his boss) to take advantage of him.
The plot is a little more convoluted than it first appears: not a simple love-triangle between Graham, Irene and Noriega’s boss, Sabine (Nathalie Richard), but an odd quadrangle involving Graham’s wife before the accident that damaged his memory — Isabelle (Paz Vega) — and the erstwhile best friend whose jealous outburst caused his injury, Fred (Eric Caravaca), with Graham and Isabelle’s son Antoine along for the ride to bear witness to it all.
The film is whimsical, although a little heavy on the symbolism. Graham/Pablo’s stray interlude after his notebook has been stolen (by Fred as part of Sabine’s efforts to keep Pablo as un-remembering Graham) involves finding a tooth that takes an odd vagina dentata turn. 
What keeps the film on-track towards the end, after the entanglements of Graham/Pablo’s love life become clear, is the father-son relationship between him and Antoine. It appears that Pablo’s memories have returned, at least his memories of Antoine, after the latter uses a GPS device initially bought by Irene in order to track his errant father down. After only a short while, they are found by the police, and Pablo brought back to the clinic that appears to care for him, where his doctor is ready to incarcerate Pablo after his straying so far from his ‘normal’ regimented life. Pablo begins to insist again that his name is Graham, an apparent relapse, but when he breaks out and runs off with his son shortly afterwards, we see it is more of a deliberate choice between lives, to live as Graham even whilst (mostly) remembering Pablo.
The film is mostly sweet and sexy, with a little bit of philosophising about what it means to love someone for a long time. There were a few moments when I felt genuinely worried about Graham/Pablo and his safety, which seemed to jar, but I think this is a lot to do with the fact that I am used to seeing Noriega in far more ‘serious’ films than this! 

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