Maixabel Movie Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?


On July 29, 2000, in the city of Tolosa, the province of Gipuzkoa, which is located in Spain in the autonomy of the Basque Country, terrorists of the right-wing radical separatist organization ETA killed the former civil governor of Gipuzkoa, Juan Maria Jauregui: he was with a close friend in a bar, the terrorists approached him and one of the terrorists shot Jauregi in the head. Juan Maria’s family – his wife Maysabel Laza (Blanca Portillo) and his nineteen-year-old daughter Maria (Maria Cerezuela) – were heartbroken.

After some time, all three terrorists were caught, tried and given long sentences. Maysabel, after the murder of her husband, headed the Association of Victims of Terrorism, which perpetuates the memory of the victims of terrorists and fights to ensure that terrorist organizations like ETA do not exist. Her daughter Maria, eleven years later, married and gave birth to a girl.

One of Jaurega’s killers, Ibon Etxesaretta (Luis Tosar), is transferred from a maximum security prison to Nanklares de la Oca so he can meet his mother. In this prison, Ibon meets with another participant in the murder of Jaurega – Luis Carrasco (Urco Olazábal). They were both expelled from ETA a long time ago because they were disillusioned with the organization and the methods of struggle that ETA used.

The association, led by Maysabel, organizes a series of meetings between remorseful murderers and relatives of their victims. It is clear that there can be no question of any forgiveness, but the association wants to help the former killers look into the eyes of the people whose loved ones they killed and repent.

And Luis Carrasco asks for such a meeting with Maysabel herself. She agrees: she wants to understand why and for what her husband was killed, who at that time did not even hold any public post. Her daughter Maria is categorically against this meeting, and primarily out of fear for her mother’s life: Maria believes that these people are still dangerous. But Maysabel, despite her daughter’s persuasion, agrees to meet with Louis.


The director and screenwriter of this film, Iciar Bolhain, is a Basque, but the cast here is mixed: Blanca Portillo, who played Maysabel, is a Spaniard from Madrid, Luis Tosar, who played Ibon, is a Galician from Lugo, Urco Olazábal, who played Luis, is a Basque.

The script is based on real events and real people. Juan Maria Jauregui was indeed killed by three commandos from ETA’s Burunza unit. His wife, Maysabel Lasa, headed the Basque government’s Office of Assistance to Victims of Terrorism (Oficina de Atención a las Víctimas del Terrorismo del Gobierno vasco) for eleven years. And she was indeed one of the first relatives of victims of ETA militants who agreed to meet with repentant commandos.

(There, by the way, there was an interesting story with Juan Maria Jauregui himself – he had a very rich and difficult biography – however, I can’t talk about this in a review, because Maisabel briefly tells his story in the film, so I won’t spoil it .)

The film is quite heavy, it is a real drama, but it tells about important things. About how people get into terrorist organizations, about what they do in these organizations, and how they eventually understand how much they were manipulated by the leadership of these organizations, what this leadership really is and what a nightmare they are. they themselves generally created, and most importantly, in the name of what.

It also speaks of forgiveness, of course. Finding the courage to come to a meeting with your husband’s killers (Maisbel met with both Luis and Ibon), look into the eyes of your husband’s killers – in order to understand why and why they did it, and try to accept their sincere repentance – this It was extremely dramatic and very powerful. But this is a real story – Maysabel Lasa was one of the first to meet with the repentant murderers of her husband. And she knew that her husband Juan Maria Jauregui would have approved: they had been married for twenty-five years, she knew him very well.

Blanca Portillo did an excellent job as Maysabel. Her heroine had the most difficult psychological experiences with this whole story eleven years after the death of her husband: her daughter did not understand why she was doing this, and her friends and acquaintances did not understand this. But this woman, like her murdered husband, had her own convictions and clearly followed these convictions. And Blanca Portillo, in my opinion, showed Maisabel Lasa absolutely wonderfully, and Maisabel Laza herself completely agrees with this: she advised the filmmaker Iciar Bolhain and repeatedly met and talked with Blanca Portillo. (Relevant links and photos are at the end of the review, as usual.)

Ibona Etxesaretta was played by actor Luis Tosar, who had already starred with Iciar Bolhain. I was very impressed with this role: a hard-nosed terrorist commando at the beginning of the film, a doubting man in the middle, realizing that he was manipulated by people pursuing their own interests, and completely remorseful (and not ostentatiously) at the end. You need to be able to play it, and Luis Tosar managed to convey it with all the nuances. It’s even strange how accurately he managed to do this – with his appearance of a particular action movie. Good actor, really good actor.

Well, I really liked Maria Cerezuela, who played Maysabel’s daughter Maria. A girl who survived the terrible tragedy of losing her father, managed to somehow get out of it all, created a family and gave birth to a daughter, while she had to face all this horror from the past when her mother decided to meet with people involved in the murder of her father – it was also a very, very difficult role, and Maria played very worthy.

It is staged masterfully: very precisely, sparingly, dramatically, with clearly defined accents. The topic for the Basques (and for any other nations) is extremely painful, and all this is demonstrated without any squeezing of tears and obvious pedaling of any emotions. And from some scenes, just a lump in my throat: especially from the scene when Maria’s friend, who was having fun somewhere outside the city, went to the city for beer and heard on TV in a bar about the murder of her father, and then when Maria’s aunt arrived with a terrible news. Well, also Maysabel’s meetings with her husband’s killers – it’s really filmed very well, and these scenes make their way to the liver.

This is a very good movie that is worth watching because it talks about very important things. It’s well staged, it’s well played. And these films are worth watching.

PS It was not licensed in United States, but it is available in torrents with a two-voiced voice over and United Statesn subtitles. Look, it’s worth it.

PPS Well, a couple of real photos.

Actress Blanca Portillo with the real Maisabel Laza.

Maisabel Lasa talks with the director of the film, Isiar Bolhain.

Maysabel / Maixabel

Directed by: Iciar Bolhain Cast: Blanca Portillo, Luis Tosar, Maria Cerezuela, Urco Olazábal, Tamara Canosa, Maria Jesus Hoyos, Arancha Aranguren, Bruno Sevilla, Josu Ormaeche, Marxelo Rubio

Drama, Spain, 2021, 115 min.

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