Source: uniFrance films
In present times, David (Àlex Brendemühl) is travelling down a mountain road when his car flips, killing his pregnant wife and critically injuring David. David and his 3-month premature child are saved, but the subsequent tests reveal David has little time to live unless he has a bone marrow transplant. When he goes to tell his parents about his situation, they reveal his past is not all it seems.
In the 1930's, a group of children who do not feel pain are discovered and they are taken into an asylum in order for them to be rehabilitated. One such child, Benigno, reveals a strange talent that both helps and hinders him in his time at the asylum over the next 30 years.
As the second film on my trip to the London Film Festival, Painless wasn't initially shortlisted by me as a film I needed to watch. It was chosen by my girlfriend, and after re-reading the plot summary I became curious as to exactly what the film was about.
A mixture of horror, curiousity and drama, Painless covers a period of recent history that is rarely shown in film (at least, I have never come across it) - the Spanish civil war. The other strong theme are the paternal relationships, which debut director Juan Carlos Medina explained has become increasingly important in Spain following the lost period in Spanish history where many families became separated during the war.
The most striking part of Painless comes from its visuals. Aside from the impressive and disturbing make-up on the adult Benigno, the film also features vast medieval-looking sets and one of the most menacing prisons to have graced film.
Painless is aided by a strong musical background from Johan Söderqvist (Let The Right One In) who Medina admits he was desperate to get on board after hearing how he combined horror and romance in the Swedish vampire film. This comes across very well in Medina's similarly themed film and it goes to show that Medina could have a bright future ahead of him with such wise decisions.
It won't be to everyone's cup of tea due to the graphical content, but if you can get hold of a European DVD then it is well worth seeing.