Kevin Noland makes a fine debut in both writing and directing this colorful, insightful, low-key exploration of the age old Apollonian Dionysian conflict. For a first film, despite some minor technical glitches (overexposed photography at key moments, a soundtrack that eats the dialogue before it is audible), Noland proves himself a keen observer of life, of philosophy, and of character studies. He is definitely an artist to watch.
Chris McKinley (Joshua Jackson in yet another fine performance) has just finished college and is ending his summer holiday in Spain with only three days before he returns to an important corporate position in the US. He is traveling with two friends, Ryan (Timm Sharp) and Michelle (Ruthanna Hopper) who are lovers, and they end their holiday in Pamplona, Spain just as the festival of the bulls is happening. Chris' backpack is stolen and with it his passport, credit cards, all semblances of civilization..., and he plunges out of despair into the wildness of the running of the bulls. He meets two important influences: American expatriate bar owner Riccardo who spouts forth 'live for the moment' concepts, and the beautiful and intoxicating Adela (Leonor Varela) who embodies all that is fascinating about the beauty of Spain. The four young people set out on a hike to fly fish, carouse, and live with nature, and this excursion into Spain's gorgeous countryside affects the foursome: Ryan and Michelle decide to part ways and Chris and Adela...well, the story has a fine ending!
Noland respects the viewer and offers his tale of discovery with minimal dialogue, some terrific music, exciting footage of the running of the bulls and bullfights, and some hallucinogenic views of nature. Both Joshua Jackson and Leonor Varela light up the screen. Ruthanna Hopper (Dennis Hopper's daughter) not only acts well, she also has been part of this project since its inception, is one of the producers, and adds a credibility to the story. So despite the occasional technical flaws, this is a little film of joy, a celebration of discovery the important facts of living. Grady Harp, May 06