Well-written and with a heartwarming message at its core, Diecisiete (Seventeen) is a simple but effective drama, one that plays on themes around familial bonds and brotherhood. Although the film lacks any stand-out performances or anything noteworthy to help it stand out from others in this genre, there’s enough here to make for a solid Spanish drama nonetheless.
The story revolves around Hector, a troubled 17-year-old who escapes a young offenders center to find a shelter dog he befriended while incarcerated. Joined by his older brother Ismael, Hector’s quest to find his dog Sheep soon evolves into something much more touching and profound as lessons around honesty and trust come to the foreground. As the film evolves, the latter portion of the picture allows some of the long-standing issues between the two brothers bubble to the surface as home-truths are revealed and everything is wrapped up perfectly by the end.
With a lack of twists or tense drama, most of Diecisiete plays out in a relatively straight forward manner, with the road trip used as an anchor to showcase different locations, allowing another idea or facet of the brother’s relationship to come to the foreground. It’s a simple enough idea and one that’s been done numerous times in other road trip films but there’s enough depth and emotion in this one to make it worth following for its 90 minute run-time.
Diecisiete’s simplicity is both its strongest and weakest point of the film. On the one hand, the plot is simply used as a foundation to keep the story ticking by and allow the character drama to come to the foreground. At the same time, Diecisiete is also a film you’re unlikely to remember for long after the credits roll because of this. It’s certainly not a bad film, and some of the late character dialogue between Hector and Ismael is really well written, but the lack of outstanding moments of drama hold this back from being a more memorable title.
Still, having said all that Diecisiete is a decent drama and worth checking out. It’s a film about friendship and loyalty, as well as dedication to one’s family that strikes a nice, heartwarming note throughout its relatively simple plot. While it’s unlikely to be a film remembered for long after the credits roll, there’s enough here to make for a decent Spanish picture nonetheless.
Verdict - 7/10