Monday, 19 August 2013

Three Steps Above Heaven

The film starts with Hugo 'H' Olivera voicing his thoughts about the ongoing trial where he's being persecuted for assault on his mother's boyfriend. Let off with a fine of six thousand euros and a warning that further offenses would land him in prison, he walks out of the courtroom, switching his formal coat to a leather jacket and rides off on a Triumph Thruxton 07.

He sees Babi Alcazar for the first time at a traffic intersection, on her way to school. He is immediately attracted to her as she sticks her face out for air and whistles before calling her a 'Dog-Face'. He rides up to her car window and takes her hand. A stunned Babi manages to give him the finger before driving off.

Hugo, preferred to be known as simply H, leads a somewhat lawless life. Involved in street racing (without helmets, no less) and other chest-beating contests, he is clearly somewhat of a leader in the biker clique. Overthrowing Chino, another biker portrayed as his rival, in a contest of chin-ups, H and a few friends decide to crash a 'rich kids' party. There he sees Babi again, and upon approaching her, promptly gets a milk shake thrown on his face. The bikers and the rich kids fight, and in the chaos, H picks Babi up and jumps into the pool. A angry Babi calls him a brute and curses him for ruining her Valentino dress. H winks and tells her to tell Valentino that the dress looks much better wet.

Meanwhile, Babi's best friend, Katina has her weekly allowance of fifty euros stolen by H's bestie, Pollo. Despite requests, Pollo refuses to return her money and offers to buy her lunch when she says she'll go hungry. Upset, she calls him a half-wit and strides off tearfully, leaving him speechless.

The gate crashers leave when they get wind of the cops being informed. However, they follow Babi and her ex, Chico, who was the narc. The bikers thrash his car and spit in his face. They give up when Chico manages to throw one off his bike, but H catches up and beats him up for 'ruining the party for people who know how to have fun'. Babi panics and stops a car for help. When the man, Mr. Santamaria tries to pull H off Chico, he receives a blow that nearly sends his nose into his brain. Both the Santamarias and Chico drive off fearfully, leaving Babi behind with no choice but to get home with H. He rides her home, but they are seen by Babi's mother, who disapproves of H and his motorcycle.

The following day, Katina tells Babi that Pollo and she are seeing each other, and that he had invited her to see him race. She requests Babi to cover up for her. Babi, though not happy about the 'thug', agrees. However, she has to go the Siamese races herself when Katina's mother calls her up and is not able to get through her. H teases her, and she snaps that he 'wouldn't be so cocky in court'. He merely smiles and replies that 'the day I'm up in the court, this nice girl here do anything to save me because by then she'll be crazy about me'.

Provoked by his remarks and attitude, she decides to ride behind Chino. Borrowing Katina's belt, she buckles up facing backwards. Before the race could end, the police arrive and Babi is nearly arrested, but H intervenes and picks her up and drops her off at a place to hide while he could shake the cops off his tail. The cops, however, get a good shot of them zooming off. When H comes back, Babi comes out of her hiding place and is covered in manure. H asks her to take off her clothes if she wants to get onto the bike and offers her his jacket. Despite warnings not to turn around while she strips, H adjusts his rear-view mirror to enjoy the show. She threatens to cover his face with manure.

Dropping her at her place, H approaches her seductively and whispers in her ear if she would report him. Getting a firm 'yes' in answer, he kisses her cheek softly and teasingly moves onto her lips. Just as she readies herself for a liplock, H draws back and teases her, saying that even though she calls him a pig, bastard, brute, she still wants him to kiss her. Babi slaps him before striding off.

The papers carry their picture under the headlines of illegal street-racing. H makes a poster of the picture and glues it to her ceiling in her absence. Babi receives a picture of H waiting in a nightclub from Katina, with the message 'Look who's waiting for you'. She laughs as her gaze falls onto the poster. 

Babi reaches the nightclub, lets herself loose with a vodka pineapple and gyrates to the music. H joins her, and they exchange 'Dog Face' and 'Brute' before having their first kiss. Babi returns home, exhilarated, and is confronted by her mother about the newspaper picture. When she lies on being asked about drinking, she is slapped. Her mother, regretting hitting her daughter, asks her husband to do something about the situation.

Babi is grounded, but decides to skip school to spend the day with H. They, however, are seen by Babi's teacher. As they ride to the beach, H sees his mother in a car with a boyfriend and seemingly loses control. driving off at an insane speed as Babi screams at him to stop. When he does, he vents out his anger on a pile of trash cans. She asks him about the woman. He replies, she WAS my mother. The story comes spilling out about his mother's infidelity, and H's distance from his parents. Babi manages to calm him down and they spend a magical day at the beach.

Coming back home, she fakes her mother's signature on the absence slip. Her mother introduces her to the new neighbour, Gustavo and asks her to show him around. Babi refuses, lying that she was to go the cinema with her girlfriends. Her mother realizes, but doesn't stop her. Babi and Katina go back to the racing scene, where Babi is confronted by Mara, a girl H was sleeping with previously. She brandishes Babi's scarf and comments on its strength, saying that H used it to tie her to the bed the other day. Babi snatches the scarf from her and a fight ensues. Babi wins, leaving Mara bloody-lipped. 

Struck by guilt, she sobs on H's shoulder, while he consoles her that he would never cheat or hurt her. To celebrate her first war victory, he takes her to a tattoo parlor where she gets an 'H' inked onto her pelvis.

Worried about their daughter getting out of their hand, Claudio, Babi's father meets up with H. H reassures him that his daughter is a good influence him, and puts his mind at ease.

Babi submits the absence slip with the fake signature, and her teacher immediately calls her mother up and threatens her with expulsion. In order to avoid that, her parents donated a lot of money. Her mother tells her to stay away from Katina. Upset, Babi home when H climbs in from her window and takes her to a pool with Katina and Pollo. They discuss sex, and H tells her that he is no hurry. Under the excuse of a sleepover with Katina, she gains permission from her father to go out with H. He blindfolds her and drives her over to the beach house, the one she loved to "own" when she was a kid. They spend the night there, and Babi loses her virginity. H, for the first time, tells her that he loves her, and that he is happier from her to three steps above heaven.

Knowing that she was facing problems with her teacher, H pays the teacher a visit and asks her to treat Babi well. When the teacher refuses to be threatened, H and Pollo kidnap her dog, Pepito. Babi's mother cuts her allowance off and she has to babysit for money. H brings Pollo and Pepito around to take care of the kid while they spend time alone. On the other hand, they are interrupted when Pollo brings more of his friends in and start partying. Babi gets upset and throws everyone out. In order to make up, H cooks up a romantic dinner and calls her up. She reacts angrily, accusing his friends of stealing one of her mother's rings. H, outraged, reaches the biking scene and confronts Chino, beating him senseless before Mara stops him and returns the ring.

H gives her the ring back, and she lies convincingly in the court the next day. Embarrassed and upset, her mother accuses her of humiliating their family when they had promised to help the Santamarias. Babi shakes her off, saying that she doesn't want to live her mother's lousy life before riding off with H. She tells him that she won't lie for him again; if this continues, they would be through. H promises to change for her.

The results come out, and Babi gets through with the best grade, though a bit confused as she was expecting to fail. She decides to thank her teacher when she sees her boxing her stuff, and Pepito. Stunned, she leaves and breaks up with H for threatening her teacher and messing her life up. 

Her mother plans her birthday party, and a unenthusiastic Babi readies herself for the evening with Katina's help, who promises to drop by after racing with Pollo.

H, despite promising to be at the race for Pollo, turns up at the party to reconcile with Babi. Babi welcomes him with open arms and they dance. Gustavo, who is interested in Babi, accidentally spills a drink over her and tries to help even though she protests. H, irritated asks him to stay away, and when he reacts, punches him in the face. Babi gets upset and helps Gustavo up, and H is led away by Claudio. Daniela, Babi's sister, gets a call that Katina and Pollo has had an accident.

Babi and H rush to the site, where Katina is in a state of shock, begging H to find Pollo because 'they wouldn't allow her to see him'. H pushes his way through the crowd and finds Pollo being zipped up in a body-bag and gets hysterical, hitting the bike. Babi tries to comfort him, but ultimately leaves. H runs after her, and she screams at him not to touch her. She accuses him of not caring about anything or anyone, not even himself, and blames him for Pollo's death, saying that he killed him. H, beyond rational thinking, slaps her across the face. Stunned and hurt, Babi walks off, and H doesn't stop her.

Many days later, Babi is shown to have had moved on, dating Gustavo now, and not keeping in touch with Katina. Katina shows up at H's house on Christmas, detached and depressed, and gifts him a framed picture of him and Pollo at a pool. Touched, he thanks her and asks her to stay for dinner. She declines, asking him if he was still in touch with Babi. He shakes his head, and she tells him to forget her as she is with a different crowd now.

H decides to try for the last time, and calls at her house phone from the phone box outside her home. Babi's mother answers and realizes who it is. She asks him to hold on when he asks for her, and purposefully lets him hear that Babi and Gustavo are together and going away for a day. She asks him to take care of her daughter, and he assures her he will. Rafaela hangs up, and H sees Babi and Gustavo coming out in a car. Babi sees him, and is disturbed.

H goes back and sits outside his building, crying. His brother asks him if he is okay, and H breaks down in his arms.

H heals, and takes his brother to the beach where Babi and he spent their first date. He tells him of his plans of going to London for work, an idea his brother agrees as a good one. H recounts his time with Babi, knowing that he would, indeed, never feel as though he were 'Three Steps Above Heaven' again.

I loved the movie because one, Mario Casas is gorgeous. There are bikes, adrenalin and love in the story, and I really liked the acting Casas put up. I really identified with him and his feelings when he saw Babi with Gustavo. And, the fact that he lied and manipulated his way around in the first part of the story made me feel that he, too, is human. Flawed, if you will. And he changes all of that, though does occasionally take the wrong approach to fix things up, when he meets her. Now that's love.


  1. Nice review. Did you watch the English version? OR ¿Entiende Español señora? (Spanish to English translation: Do you understand Spanish madam?)

    1. i had english subtitles :) well, i can hardly say that i understand spanish but i can understand a few words if they speak slowly enough. :D