Set in Catalonia, Painless weaves two stories: in one, starting during the Spanish Civil War and running through to the ’60s, an asylum attempts to rehabilitate children who feel no pain, by teaching them physical suffering.
In the second, in the present time, a brilliant neurosurgeon who needs a bone marrow transplant, discovers this dark past when he searches for his biological parents.
Some reviewers who have watched Painless have described the children, who are by all means treated as if they are insane and straitjacketed in cells separate from each other, as having superpowers. Whilst up to a point I can see where they’re coming from with this assumption, it is not really that simple. All the children are impervious to pain and to some extent impervious to emotions to. They are seen by the villagers in their town as demons and the only way their illness should be treated according to the town mayor is to lock them away in the asylum for testing.
Whilst the children are being treated for their illnesses, the Spanish Civil War is going on around them and they are not really aware of two sides battling against each other outside. It is only when the Reds infilitrate the asylum that the children know something is not right. Their world has been isolated, with only the director, professor and nurses being their teachers and at times reprimanders. They could remain locked away forever, or perhaps if lucky they may be released to live lives outside of their prison?
In the present, David is driving with his wife, when they have a car accident, after he falls asleep at the wheel (Which being a doctor is not a surprise, considering the sheer amount of hours most doctors do on their shifts! I wonder why his wife didn’t drive for him instead?)! Surviving the accident, David discovers he has a very agressive form of cancer, which requires a bone marrow from either of his parents. It is at this point that David discovers he is adopted and he sets out to discover who his parents are and why this has been shrouded in mystery for all of his life. Will David find out the truth about his parents or will he be kept in the dark without a clue? As usual, you need to go and buy the DVD to find out!!!
So what did you think of the film then?
Painless is a visually beautiful film and there were some truly psychologically frightening moments on rare occassion. If I was to be honest, I would say that I would rather the film had been set in one time frame and allowed to breathe. At moments, the film darts back and forth and if you don’t pay close attention, you can miss out on some of the key plot lines within. The car accident was quite spectacular and I was very impressed by the thought which went into filming it. I was not impressed however, by the one dimensional characters and I did not really feel empathetic towards any character at all. The Spanish Civil War and World War II appear to be fleeting moments and we are presented with all manner of scenes of torture and discomfort to those unfortunate enough to be detained as prisoners of war.
Plot holes appear during the latter part of the film and it feels that the storyline is tossed away in favour of out and out gross torture scenes.
When David finally finds out the truth about his parents, I was left feeling not bothered at all, as I had not been given the opportunity to get to know their characters at length either. Oh by the way, did I forget to say that David’s wife managed to deliver a baby during the film? Sorry if I didn’t, but the whole birth of the baby was glosssed over too and he barely even looks in on his child throughout the film.
The ending of the film whilst poignant, left me emotionless and I didn’t really care.
Painless could have been so much more of a film in the right hands. Perhaps it will be remade one day? Let’s hope so!