Minor Key

A man is locked inside a song.

Genre: Drama

Length: 11:49

Subscription Site

4 out of 5 stars

Producer/s : Guillermo Delgado, Ivan Sainz-Pardo

Director/s : Iván Sáinz-Pardo, 

Writer/s : Iván Sáinz-Pardo, 

Actor/s : Miguel Rellán, David Tortosa


Lost in music

It’s the little details of Minor Key that make it more than a routine depiction of familial angst. It’s the way things build, only letting us slowly work out what’s going on. Yes, the trope is a common one – a man in denial of his reality creating a fantasy world to live in. The record-player stylus jumping back to repeat the song’s first line over and over is both the key to his state of mind, and the metaphor for being so stuck.

This classy and well-financed film is also a lesson in how to lift a short towards the cinematic. Saintz-Pardo demonstrates a high degree of directorial authority, with his use of colour, close-ups, and focus-pulls. And the music: a plaintive Fado song, memorial to the Portuguese wife, sets the mood. Fado has been called the Portuguese blues, or Portuguese country, but it’s a style all its own, romantic and sadly bittersweet, that peoples’ way of coping with life’s sorrows.

Miguel Rellan portrays the grieving father with commendable restraint, and David Tortosa is likewise excellent as the son, first bewildered then angered as he sees his father not so much as pitiable, more as self-pitying. They have a brief flare-up, and the son leaves. “Why do you always spoil it?” says the father.

The ending is strange and subtle, as the son goes to a café, sees a man and a little boy who could have been him and dad a long time ago, then buys a new vinyl disc to replace the one that jumps. Might this unlock the father from his surreal prison?

It’s not directed in the least like a “haunted record” story, it’s played as straight drama. Which makes it all the stranger.