I was a pretty pretentious teenager. I’m pretty pretentious as an adult, too, but nothing compared to 16-year-old Kyle. That guy was borderline insufferable. It was at that age that I first started reading the works of the existentialists, particularly Camus and Sartre. I’d like to say that I stumbled across the stuff while diligently studying in the school library, but it was actually entirely due to a friend of mine (Ged Gengras for any of you LA music scenesters) who cast me in a production of Sartre’s play No Exit, which he was directing. I read the script and my mind was blown. An hour-long play about three people trapped in a room in hell, reflecting on their lives and their places in the universe? This was a real thing? This was allowed?
I told myself that the play was asking the same questions I was currently asking, but the truth is many of the concepts had never occurred to me until Jean-Paul elucidated them. This changed my life. It cemented in my mind that I wanted to write and ponder for a living (pretentious adult, remember?) As such, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for media which deals with similar themes. I hated the finale of Lost, [SPOILER ALERT] not because it turned out they were in Purgatory the whole time, but rather because if that was the case, I expected better. The previous 2 seasons should have been a lot less sci-fi oriented and a lot more introspective. If you want to deal with time travel and parallel dimensions, that’s all well and good, but then the finale better have something to do with time travel and parallel dimensions!
La Grieta (“The Crack” in English) is a critically acclaimed Spanish show that is so fascinating, so utterly unique, that it forces me to ask questions like “can a show be sequential without being serialized?” and “wait, is that dude God or some sort of evil criminal mastermind?”
Each episode features three friends: Nico (Piñaki Gómez), Tomás (Antonio Leiva) and Lucía (Larisa Ramos) sitting in a room playing a game. There is no other set. Outside “exists” but we never see it. The game changes every time, as do the personalities of (and relationships between) the players. The one real constant is that, at some point during the episode, the game is disturbed by the titular crack. In some cases the crack is in the ceiling above them, in other cases in the ground beneath them. Sometimes the crack appears to be sentient, other times it seems more like a portal to another dimension, and yet at other times it just seems like an everyday architectural flaw. You never see the crack itself, but you witness its effects on the players. Sometimes these effects are deadly (particularly to Tomás), but not always. The actors do an incredible job of adjusting their styles and personalities to each episode. I never felt like I was watching the same character twice. Each episode exists entirely separately from the others. The only true continuity is The Crack. It’s an incredible feat and director Julio Fraga and writer Gracia Morales (who co-created the show along with Juan Alberto Salvatierra) deserve a ton of credit.
I don’t want to give too much away, but I strongly urge everyone to watch this show all the way through to the end. The final episode is like nothing I’ve ever seen done in a web show. Come to think of it, the whole series kinda fits that description. Watch it on their website, on Vimeo or on YouTube and see why this show has become a darling of the festival circuit. [cc]