Opening 5 Aug 2010
Daniel has graduated from university with honors and delves into his new job at a social services office with great enthusiasm and joy. Between him and a much-courted colleague, Laura (the exceptional Lola Dueñas), develops a close friendship that soon turns – against their own reluctance – into love. Co-workers, friends and family view this unusual relationship with resentment and uneasiness: Daniel was born with Down syndrome – and Laura was not.
Daniel (Pablo Pineda, the first European with Down syndrome to obtain a university degree, gives an outstanding performance) grew up in an intellectually stimulating and loving environment. His family believes in his abilities and has always encouraged him to take his rightful place in society. Their desire, that he should reach his full potential and lead a fulfilling life, stops short of recognizing his emotional needs and capacities as an adult. They don’t think he is ready to enter into a love relationship, especially not with a grown, “normal” woman. But in reality it is the family that is not ready to release him. When Daniel is lovesick over Laura, he turns to his brother, only to get the however well-meaning advice “to fall in love with a woman that is not out of his league”. In other words: he should aim low. It takes a strong, self confident and unconventional woman like Laura to follow her heart. In Daniel she finds a man with the emotional maturity that her previous boyfriends were lacking. It is simply a joy to watch this likeable couple taking delight in each other’s company; their chemistry is perfect.
Parallel to theirs unfolds a love story between Luisa and Pedro (Lourdes Naharro and Daniel Parejo). This adorable couple – both have Down syndrome – meets at the Danza Móbile, a (real) dance company that works with people with intellectual disabilities. They have to defend their love against Luisa’s overprotective mother. In a hilarious scene, the two “highjack” a wedding cake from her bakery and elope in a carriage.
This film could have easily turned out sentimental or moralizing. Instead it opens our minds
to the intellectual, emotional and artistic potential of people with Down syndrome, and the
need to differentiate between each and all of them. It is sensitive and light-hearted and fun
(with a great soundtrack). And it feels real. The directors purposely chose their supporting
cast from lesser-known actors and used shoulder cameras to achieve a sense of reality – at times as if we were watching a home video or documentary. The glimpses of Danza Móbile’s performances that we are treated to (not nearly enough!) are captivating; the emotional depth, expressiveness and physicality of the dancers are stunning. (Carola A)