The opening sequence: like the first paragraph in a short story, it provides clues and hints, it conjures coming themes, introduces the main protagonists, and establishes leading metaphors and tropes.
The church bell tower where some truth is told, some oracle is given:
About Paco and Laura…
The clock mechanism proceeds relentlessly, setting other processes in motion: moving hands, ringing bell, flapping bird wings, fluttering thoughts and emotions.
A heavy and ominous atmosphere sets in
A foreboding of something to come: broken glass around the dial
The uttering and whispering of an unwelcome prophecy:
If you get too close to time, you can hurt yourself.
The scribbling on the wall, the scar of a lost passion.
What is intuited through the single initial,
What the marking indicates, points to, yet also silences.
What it stands for, what it fails to express
What it recalls, and still conceals.
The wedding ceremony in the room below: the marriage that could not take place years before: the fated and star-crossed lovers went their separate ways.
The re-apparition of the past and its unfinished business
The no-exit world of village life
And its attending array of passions and grievances, past and new.
The obsessive filming of every detail, in a quasi journalistic fashion.
The corridors and stairways, the doors—locked and unlocked
The upstairs rooms and the shared bedrooms: physical spaces mapping out psychological and emotional ones.
The building of a particular mood through the editing and the camera work
“A feat of compression” as Elia Kazan said about theatre: every detail matters, and leads to an outcome.
The comings and goings of family members
The unsaid and unsayable
The secrets and the taboos
The suspicions and the guilt
The resentment and jealousy
Irene, whose name means Peace, yet she brings recklessness and trouble
Whose daughter is she? Who is her father?
The biological/ the adoptive father who prevented the abortion.
Fatherhood: regained, and lost again.
The ending: a disquieting lack of closure
The stuff real life is made of
As everybody knows, indeed.