Maixabel is based on the real life story of Spanish activist Maixabel Lasa (Blanca Portillo) whose politician husband Juan María Jaúregui was killed in 2000 by separatist group ETA.
Flash forward to 2011 and she receives an invitation from one of her husband’s killers, who after years in prison is remorseful and wants to take part in a new government scheme where prisoners have the opportunity to meet face to face with the people affected by their crimes.
Maixabel ends up meeting two of the men, Luis Carrasco (Urko Olazabal) and Ibon Etxezarreta (Luis Tosar) and these scenes are as powerful as you would expect.
However, so clearly is the film building up to these meetings that the story around them feels padded out.
Ibon, who is initially reluctant to meet with Maixabel, shares almost half the screentime.
When on leave visiting his mother, we see how his actions have affected her while his leaving the ETA has effected his standing in the community and his character arc ends up being much more interesting than Maixabel’s.
Probably more effective for those with context to the real life events, Maixabel offers interesting ideas around forgiveness but doesn’t pull off the emotional punches needed.
Director: Icíar Bollaín
Starring: Blanca Portillo, Luis Tosar, Urko Olazabal
Showing as part of the Moro Spanish Film Festival running until May 18.