On the Fringe (En los márgenes) takes place on a single day in Madrid, Spain. Interconnected stories about people facing eviction or losing their children all come to a head on this day. Evictions are common in modern day Spain, carried out by police in riot gear. People on the margins, especially immigrants, can have their children taken away by the state. This is a grim film about a problem facing many countries.
On the Fringe (En los márgenes) showcases three stories out of many. People lose their jobs, someone gets ill, a business goes under, immigrants are exploited for low wages – there are many reasons people are faced with homelessness.
The lawyer Rafa (Luis Tosar) loosely ties these stories together. He tries to help people, intercedes with social services (who are understaffed), and runs around like a chicken with his head cut off all day long, without accomplishing much. On this particular day he’s got his stepson Raúl (Christian Checa) with him because he was late getting him where he was going. He also missed an appointment at the doctor’s to be there with his wife during an amniocentesis.
Rafa sums up his day as a shit day, and his judgement applies to all the other lives involved in the story as well.
The first story features Badia (Somaya Taoufiki). She’s a single mom with a school age daughter. She leaves the girl alone while she works two jobs. The police think the child is neglected and take her away. Rafa is right in the middle of her case and tries all day long to get the daughter back from the welfare people.
Azucena (Penélope Cruz) is a mom as well. Her little boy is in school and stopped talking a month ago. Her husband isn’t around much and her job doesn’t pay well. She’s an activist involved with demonstrations outside banks and at the homes of people being evicted.
Teodora (Adelfa Calvo) is an older mother who loaned her grown son money for a business. He lost it all. She’s lonely and desperate and her son won’t face her. She’s another mom about to lose her home.
Connected to these people are two day laborers, Germán (Font Garcia) and Manuel (Juan Diego Botto). They happen to be working in the same place on the same day and have a long conversation.
Juan Diego Botto also directed. Botto is a well-known Argentinian actor you may recognize. This is his first full length feature film to direct.
There are some small successes in the day, for example Raúl begins to understand his stepfather better. But the harsh reality of being among the marginalized masses unable to pay the rent or hire child care is often unfair and tragic for many in the film.
On the Fringe (En los márgenes) is now streaming on Netflix.