- Coixet, Isabel
- (1960- )Isabel Coixet was born in Barcelona. She studied history, and graduated with a dissertation on American cinema. She trained as script girl and participated in several productions as assistant before starting a career in advertising that led her to set up her own company. In 1988, she shot her first script, Demasiado viejo para morir Joven (Too Old to Die Young). The film was presented at the San Sebastian Film Festival, where it was aggressively trashed by the critics. The experience sent the director into a deep crisis of self-confidence that lasted eight years, a period during which she became a respected director of TV spots.Then, in 1996, Coixet decided on a second attempt at a feature film, traveling to the United States and shooting the low-budget, independent, nonunion Things I Never Told You in a town in the Midwest. In spite of limited resources, she was able to work with some actors who would later develop substantial careers, such as Lili Taylor, as well as with the more established Seymour Cassel and Andrew McCarthy. The film is a typically grim account of several lives dominated by frustration, which was presented at international festivals and caught critics' attention.Her next film was the period drama A los que aman (Those Who Love, 1998), set in the first half of the 19th century and, as in her previous film, featuring a gallery of wounded, sad characters. My Life Without Me (2003) was a well-received melodrama starring Sarah Polley as a young woman who readies herself to die when she finds out she has uterine cancer.In 2006, Coixet directed La vida secreta de las palabras (The Secret Life of Words), produced by El Deseo S.A., which critics regard as her best film so far. The melancholy mood in her previous efforts was if anything exacerbated in this story mostly set on an oil drilling platform in the middle of the North Sea. Also the theme of the difficulties of dealing with painful emotions, so important in her previous efforts, was here articulated historically in the story of a young mother who becomes scarred for life when she is brutally forced to kill her baby during the Balkan war. Coixet got intense performances from Sarah Polley and Tim Robbins as two deeply wounded characters, but especially managed to convey a visually fascinating world, evidence of a strong outlook. This was one of the most critically successful films of the year, earning a number of national and international awards, including the Goya. After this, she participated in the multi-director project Paris, je t'aime (2006), a film of sketches, each focusing on one Parisian district (Coixet did the Bastille episode).Elegy (2008), was based on the Philip Roth novel The Dying Animal, starred Penelope Cruz and Ben Kingsley, and was set in New York; like most previous films by Coixet, it was shot in English. It featured a womanizing University professor who is used to flirting with ex-students but who unexpectedly falls in love with a Cuban exile. Such unplanned emotions actually interrupt the relationship. As in her previous films, Coixet brought a searing sense of pain to the realization of true love.This was followed in 2009 by Mapa de los sonidos de Tokyo (Map of the Sounds of Tokyo), a visually arresting portrait of pain focused on a frustrated love affair between a Spanish wine merchant played by Sergi López and a Japanese contract killer played by Rinko Kikuchi. Shot in the Japanese capital, it is a film of murmurs, rustle, and textures, which progresses quietly, almost tentatively, finding poetry in the relationship between the oddly matched protagonists.
Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.