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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | January 28, 2022

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| On 27, Apr 2016

‘Nothing in Return’ is a coming-of-age story that sees a young teenager, suffering as a product of his poor environment, try and break out and achieve something when the world continually knocks him down.  

Writer and Director Daniel Guzmán, best known for his acting career in films such as ‘Mia Sarah’ (2006) and television series ‘Aquí no hay quien viva’ (2003-2006), steps behind the camera to deliver an honest and pure depiction of distressed youth in Madrid. ‘Nothing in Return’ earned Guzmán and his cast the Best New Director and Best New Actor awards at the 2016 Goya Awards. The film marked Guzmán’s transition into feature filmmaking after making several highly acclaimed short films such as ‘Dreams’ (2003) and ‘Inseguridad’ (2002). A common theme in his work has been his enthusiasm for Madrid and the stories walking its streets.


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What makes Guzmán’s storytelling unique is the realism he projects into his creations. The casting of first-time actors brought a freshness, authenticity and vulnerability to the screen. Whilst the ultilisation of some of Spain’s great acting talents gave the film depth, a sense of melancholy but a guiding authorial voice.

Dario (Miguel Herrán) is caught in the middle of his parent’s messy separation, having to play mediator to characters who care more about themselves then the people around them. As a result his grades at school suffer and he turns to petty theft as a way to blow off steam. His only solace is his best friend Luismi (Antonio Bachiller), with whom he shares a light-hearted, bickering friendship – going for joy rides and spying on girls. However as it all gets too much with his parents fighting, Dario runs away from home, finding shelter with mechanic (Felipe García Vélez) who believes the law is on the wrong side of him and an old woman (Antonia Guzmán) who collects used furniture off the street whilst thinking she sees faces of her past. Through the interactions with these people, Dario is offered stability, support and attention. The film concerns itself with loneliness and its manifestations in a person’s behaviours and attitudes. The audience is given hope that one can rebuild a family unit with the help of complete strangers.


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‘Nothing in Return’ whilst incorporates deep themes that resonate with Spanish culture also relates on a world-wide level through examining degrees of poverty in society, family, youth and the teenage concept of invincibility. As a coming-of-age tale, the film strived for an experiential feel balancing carefree situations with serious consequences. A combination of extreme close ups and wide landscape shots also helped capture the essence of the characters’ thoughts. Covering a range of emotions such as happiness, loss, frustration, lust and self-confidence, Guzmán’s film really spoke to its audience, teaching us that the past can be learned from and that it shouldn’t define what or who we want to be.

For more information on Palace Cinema’ screening times click here.

For more information about the Spanish Film Festival click here.

Image Credits: Spanish Film Festival, imdb