‘Days of the Whale’ Review: A Battle Between Art and Power


For all the stress and strife endured by the teenage protagonists of “Days of the Whale,” a drama set in Medellín, Colombia, the movie also puts across the bright beauty of its urban environs. After all, Medellín is known as a “city of eternal spring.”

Cristina (Laura Tobón) and Simon (David Escallón) are two sweet-natured graffiti artists suspended between the street and their dysfunctional homes. Cristina, who goes by “Cris,” copes with a tetchy father who has a much younger girlfriend, and video calls with her mother, a journalist whose work in the city, has put her in such danger that she’s had to set herself up elsewhere. Simon has an overprotective mom, and is subjected to taunts by a gang. That gang also tries to extort protection money from Lucas (Carlos Fonnegra), who manages a youth house where the graffiti crew hangs out.

These factors provide the tension throughout this concise movie. They also underscore a battle of values, as one character puts it, between art and power. A battle the kids aren’t wholly ready for, but have to engage.

But “Days of the Whale,” written and directed by Catalina Arroyave Restrepo, is mostly an account of the pleasures and pains of adolescent days at liberty, in a not dissimilar mode to that of the excellent 2018 film “Skate Kitchen.” The cast is appealingly natural, the cinematography subtly seductive, and the Colombian pop songs on the soundtrack establish a sinuous groove.

Days of the Whale
Not rated. In Spanish and English, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes. Watch through virtual cinemas.

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