She’s become a name to watch in comedy and director Maria Ripoll (Barcelona, ​​1964) likes to shake things up by introducing new elements in this popular, profitable, diverse and versatile genre. And that’s exactly what she does in her new film, Nosaltres no ens matarem amb pistoles (We Won’t Kill Each Other With Guns). Adapted from an award-winning play by Víctor Sánchez Rodríguez, it’s about five thirty-somethings who reunite after the suicide of their mutual friend, Paula. Here, the director of Ahora o nunca (2015) and No culpes al karma de lo que te pasa por gilipollas (2016) tells us about this tale of a bunch of losers which stars Ingrid García-Jonsson, Joe Manjón, Elena Martín, Lorena López, Carlos Troya and … a chicken!

Surely one of the first things you always get asked about is the western, or perhaps I should say spaghetti-western, vibe of Nosaltres no ens matarem amb pistoles, starting with the soundtrack and the preparation for Ingrid García-Jonsson‘s return to the town for the gathering with her childhood friends.

Yes, always, and I love it that people pick up on that. The film is shot in Sagunto, Valencia, which was once a thriving industrial town and has these desolate landscapes perfect for reflecting what’s going on inside the characters. The five friends are meeting up again after a long time without seeing each other, and each feels so threatened by the others that it’s as if they were indeed armed with handguns. It’s like they feel confronted by each other at the same time as they have to confront their grief over the loss of their friend Paula, who shot herself. Also, when it comes to spiritual and aestheticinfluences, director of photography Joan Bordera and I talked a lot about Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show (1971), which was also set in a declining town. In keeping with that context, Simon Smith composed a soundtrack reminiscent of those spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone with music by Ennio Morricone. I’m really thrilled with the result.

Let’s talk about the Valencia seen in Nosaltres no ens matarem amb pistoles. There’s the local summer festival – the verbena – plus plenty of partying and revelry, of course, but there’s also lots of vacant premises and posters complaining about the town’s economic decline.

Valencia has some locations that have rarely appeared on screen and that are very unique. You see Valencia’s fertile plains and orange groves, but you also see its abandoned factories. The film takes place in a town that has lost all hope for a better future.

How does the film differ from the play by Víctor García Sánchez?

With the introduction of the chicken character, obviously, and the elimination or adaptation of some key elements such as the flashbacks. Any cuts to the dialogue and within some scenes were made while still remaining very faithful to the original text, without compromising it. We also added in the sequence of the arrival at the start and the moment during the verbena when the songs of the iconic group Orxata Sound System play a significant role. We went through many versions of the script before we got to the final one and it was a really cool process to go through. It reminded me of when, in 2006, I adapted Albert Espinosa’s play Tu vida en 65′ for the cinema, which was also quite an undertaking.

Speaking of which, Tu vida en 65’ is a film that reminds me of Nosaltres no ens matarem amb pistoles in that it involved a group of friends getting together to honor the memory of a former schoolmate.

It’s true! Both speak to issues of both life and death. If you never contemplate death, you can’t truly enjoy life.

‘Nosaltres no ens matarem amb pistoles’.

One of the big themes of the film is the impotence felt by millennials, those children of the 80s who were supposed to succeed in work and in love, but it hasn’t panned out that way for them. And they just have to suck it up. Or not.

There’s a phrase that sums it up: “It is what it is.” Each of the five has to face up to their own issues, but the film not only applies to millennials, we can all identify with what they’re going through, regardless of age. We were all children once and dreamed anything was possible. It was fantastic to see all five actors give everything they’ve got to this film. They make viewers feel like they really have known each other since they were little.

Elena Martín, Lorena López, Carlos Troya, Joe Manjón and Ingrid García-Jonsson are all fabulous. But I’d particularly like to talk about Ingrid. Is there any language she can’t speak? Her Valencian is impeccable in the movie.

I was amazed by Ingrid. She arrived at the rehearsals with her homework done and knowing a string of Valencian sayings that made our jaws drop. Both she and the rest of the performers brought so much to the film. A director is nothing without actors dedicated to the cause, without a great team. Nosaltres no ens matarem amb pistoles was shot in just 18 days, but I have to tell you that I had a ball. It’s one of those kinds of small, independent movies that, from time to time, really appeal to me, though the next one I do will be on a bigger scale. I have a Prime Video series about to come out, A Private Affair, starring Jean Reno, and I’m studying several other TV and film projects.

Nosaltres no ens matarem amb pistoles could almost have been penned by Luigi Pirandello, only instead of Five Characters in Search of an Author, these would be Five Characters in Search of Love. Elena Martín’s character is the one with the juiciest lines and the ones that provoke the most changes in the group dynamic. Every time she opens her mouth, even when she puts her foot in it or is being annoying, it stirs up the others’ emotions.

Well noted! It’s because the issue of loneliness is always in the air, and Elena, the role played by Elena Martín, is quite a loner. She thought she would take the world by storm but ended up on her own. The conclusion is that you can live and travel the path of life much better with company along the way.

‘Nosaltres no ens matarem amb pistoles’.

And that just leaves us to ask about the hen that wanders around the house, watches over the paella and poses in front of the camera. What does it symbolize? Does it represent magic? Is it the spirit of the absent friend urging them to find solutions to their problems?

Víctor Sánchez Rodríguez and co-writer Antonio Escámez came up with the idea of the chicken. At first, I was really worried about shooting with her on set. Would she behave herself? But not only did she behave, every time the focus was on her she pulled the perfect face for what we wanted to transmit. It was as if she had her own lines, just like the human characters, ha ha. Pauleta, the hen, brings a magical and poetic touch to the film overall. She triggers the catharsis that the script talks about. Another magical addition to the story is the girl with the gun at the beginning.

Pere Vall
Pere Vall. Journalist covering the world of cultural and entertainment in general, specialized in cinema. Pere is a regular contributor to Time Out, Ara, RNE and Catalunya Ràdio, and was editor-in-chief of the magazine Fotogramas in Barcelona for more than 20 years. A fan of Fellini, of good, regular and bad horror movies, and of humor and comedy in general. As a child, he wanted to look like Alain Delon, and has ended with a certain resemblance to Chicho Ibáñez Serrador. Not that he’s complaining though.