CHRIS: El Lobo (The Wolf) (Coutois, Spain, 2004)

“You can use all of your bullets except for this one. This one… is for Lobo.”

November’s selection for the Dirk Malcolm’s Film Club was this gripping political thriller based on the true story of Mikel Lejarza (Txema in the film, with the code name ‘The Wolf’), who was recruited by the Spanish secret services to penetrate the Basque separatist group ETA. The film does not shy from the moral and ethical complexities of his position as a mole in the pay of Franco’s dictatorship. Despite his initial reluctance he manages to infiltrate the upper orders of the group by winning their trust and agitates the schism that is forming between those who wish to continue with terrorism and those who wish to explore a political solution.

There is a scene at the very beginning, a flash forward, where his is on the run from being exposed and has commandeered a house with a phone so he can send a signal to his pay masters. It rings in an empty office, the secret service is willing to hang him out to dry when he is no longer useful for them, but he continues on his mission and brings the organisation to its knees.

The seventies are evoked convincingly and there are interesting parallels with the British situation in Ireland and, like the later, more frenetic film THE BAADER MAINHOF COMPLEX (2008), attempts to seduce the audience into the thrill of being part of a terrorist organisation while at the same time demonstrating the appalling violence and back-biting that they carry with them. Excellent.

Part attraction of this film is the beautiful Melanie Doutey who possibly provoked the longest debate in the Dirk Malcolm film club history.  Dominic suggested that she looked like a man. Google her and you’ll realise he’s an idiot.

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