“They left him lying there like a dog.”
After accidentally hitting a bicyclist with their car, a wealthy married woman (Lucia Bose) and her lover (Alberto Closas) flee the scene of the accident. When a blackmailer named Rafa (Carlos Casaravilla) threatens to tell the woman’s husband (Otello Toso) that he has seen her with Closas, they fear he has witnessed their crime.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Spanish Films
Death of a Cyclist — the best-known film by Spanish director Juan Antonio Bardem (uncle of actor Javier Bardem) — opens with the tragic titular event, which forces two complacent lovers to question the ultimate survival of their affair. Meanwhile, the weaselly Rafa represents a generalized malevolence towards the bourgeoise; his character — almost a caricature, but an effective one — wants nothing more than to get revenge against what he views as a privileged, careless class. Though a subplot revolving around Closas’ increasingly threatened position as a university professor doesn’t always ring true, it helps moves the plot along to its tragic ending. The final scene is especially poignant — you’ll find yourself muttering “touche” in admiration.
Note: Cyclist won raves at the Cannes International Film Festival, but was inexplicably panned by New York Times reviewer Bosley Crowther upon its American release.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Luminous cinematography
- Judicious use of editing and close-ups to create emotional tension
- Carlos Casaravilla — who looks and acts uncannily like Peter Lorre — as the creepy blackmailer
Yes. This powerful story of guilt and infidelity should be seen by all film fanatics.