The Yellow Fountain

The Yellow Fountain (1999)
Vanguard Films
Cast: Eduardo Noriega, Silvia Abascal

In recent years, we’ve seen many great thrillers, such as ’Tesis’, ’Abre Los Ojos’ and ’The Nameless’ come from Spain. ’The Yellow Fountain’ is the latest candidate to be named ’The Next Big Thing’ from Spain, but it falls short of matching the quality of the previously named films. Silvia Abascal stars as Lola, a young woman who travels to Madrid after witnessing the suicide of her boyfriend. Once in the city, she attempts to track down relatives from the Chinese side of her family, as she wishes to learn more about her childhood and the death of her parents. She soon meets Sergio (Eduardo Noriega), a bookish loner who compiles information on Chinese immigrants (although, we never learn why). Due to Lola’s snooping, they soon find themselves fleeing from the Chinese mafia (or Triads) as they’ve stumbled across an immigrant smuggling operation.

While the story in ’The Yellow Fountain’ is well-constructed, the plot is very hackneyed and predictable. Director Miguel Santesmasses allows the story to unfold at an interesting pace, as we learn a little more of Lola’s story every few minutes. However, the plotlines dealing with the search for long-lost relatives, the nerd who craves adventure, and the smuggling of Chinese laborers, has all been done before. Once again, here’s a film in which all of the Chinese characters are portrayed as either pathetic immigrants or evil mobsters. The high-point of ’The Yellow Fountain’ is the subtle performance by Eduardo Noriega. This Spanish hunk is best known for his roles in the films of Alejando Ameanabar (’The Others’), so it is quite shocking to see him playing such a quiet and shy character. He handles the role with ease, but we never truly know all of Sergio’s motivations. ’The Yellow Fountain’ has some nice touches, but can’t compare with its Spanish brethren.

The Vanguard Films release of ’The Yellow Fountain’ on DVD offers the film in a letterboxed format, which has not been enhanced for 16×9 TVs. The image has been framed at 1.85:1 and appears to be accurately formatted. There are noticeable defects from the source print, and the picture is quite dark at times. It is unclear whether this darkness is due to a problem with the transfer, or the budgetary constraints of the original film. Overall, the image is clear, but some artifacting is present. The digital 2.0 surround audio track offers clear dialogue, and some occasional rear-speark action. The subtitles on this print are clear and very easy to read.