Review of “80 Days” (“80 Egunean”)

Spanish writers/directors Jon Garano and Jose Mari Goenaga took on an ambitious project when they wrote 80 Days (80 egunean). The film follows Axun, a 70-year-old housewife, and is set in Basque Country, a rural area of Spain. What happens to Axun over the course of 80 days is something you wouldn’t think that two men might necessarily be able to write and deliver believably. But with the help of actresses Itziar Aizpuru and Mariasun Pagoaga, they do just that.

Caution: Spoilers ahead.

In the very beginning of the film, a man and woman are in a serious accident. We meet Axun (Aizpuru) after she fields a phone call from the hospital. The woman in the car has died, but the man in the car is in a coma, and he is Axun’s daughter’s ex-husband. And apparently, he has no one else interested in his well-being.

Despite her daughter and husband pleading her not to visit, Axun is bored and feels as if she must do the right thing, so she makes the trip into the city to visit Mikel in his coma. Upon reaching the room, she sees that Mikel is, though unconscious, part of a birthday party. With a party hat on his head and balloons surrounding him, Axun finds that he is celebrating the birthday of his roommate, another comatose man, whose sister is playing host.

We find out that the woman is Maite (Pagoaga), a playful woman around Axun’s age who apologizes for just having good fun. After the women make pleasantries, they discover they were once friends as young girls. Pagoaga at 70 appears much younger than Axun, stylish and smiley with less reserve. But upon finding that they used to giggle and dance together in their parents’ houses, Axun slowly begins to open up, and both women share the excitement of reconnecting.

As soon as Maite is around a man, though, we quickly find out he (Julian) is just a friend. Maite is an out lesbian, and she tells Julian she thinks she might have been in love with Axun, though it was a long time ago. Julian asks if it’s possible the feelings were mutual, but Maite dismisses his question.

Axun returns to the hospital every day under the guise of visiting Mikel. Of course, this continues to upset her family, who enjoy reminding her that Mikel is not part of their family anymore. But Axun is having too much fun with Maite, and they reminisce, share thoughts and feelings and find they enjoy each others’ company more than anyone else in their lives.

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