David Trueba’s wistfully charming six-time Goya Award–winner (including best film, director, and original screenplay) circles a blip in Beatles history when a tour-weary John Lennon took a break from the band in 1966 and visited Almería, Spain, to film a role in Richard Lester’s avant-garde comic flop How I Won the War. Lennon’s rented villa reminded him of a Salvation Army garden near his childhood home and inspired the first draft of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” which peripherally informs Trueba’s title and warm hug of an ending.
Balding, bumbling, rotund English teacher Antonio (Javier Cámara), a compassionate soul with a teen girl’s case of Beatlemania (his only classroom scene is an extended lesson on the meaning of “Help!”), road-trips from Albacete in hopes of meeting his idol. En route, he picks up a pregnant 20-year-old fleeing a convent (Natalia de Molina) and a mop-topped teenager (Francesc Colomer) fleeing his domineering dad, their leisurely bond along golden-brown vistas seemingly stronger than Franco’s unseen, palpable tyranny. The film, and especially Cámara, are at their best when the trio quirkily schemes to get close to the Fab One, which becomes an understated tribute to the impossible dreamers of a turbulent era who believed there’s nothing to get hung about.