New SIFF Review: The Most Important Thing in Life Is Not Being Dead

When will the Spanish Civil War end? World War II, we'll grant you a few more years and movies. But Franco and fascism? Basta! A memory piece, this romantic triangle alternates between the aged perspective of Jacobo, a piano tuner long married to Helena, during 1939 and what appears to be the '80s. Their happy household, it seems, is built on a foundation of lies. As in modern Spain itself, there are dark secrets in the basement: illicit bargains and secret arrangements. Something has been repressed; and something keeps Jacobo's pianos out of tune.

He has dreams of talking sheep and Escher stairs--memories and fantasies that unsettle his aged routine. But these surrealist flourishes cannot enliven an essentially dull series of flashbacks to marital deception. There's something secret in Jacobo and Helena's cellar, something hidden in the national subconscious. Though richly textured, Most Important Thing moves as slowly as the history it allusively depicts. BRIAN MILLER (Egyptian: 9:30 p.m. Thurs., June 9; and Pacific Place, 1:30 p.m. Sat., June 11.)

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