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A WOMAN WITHOUT LOVE (UNA MUJER SIN AMOR) (director/writer: Luis Buñuel; screenwriters: Rudolpho Usigli/Jaime Salvador/from the story Pierre et Jean by Guy de Maupassant; cinematographer: Raul Martinez Solares; editor: Jorge Bustos; music: Raul Lavista; cast: Rosario Granados (Rosario), Julio Villareal (Don Carlos Montero), Tito Junco (Julio Mistral), Joaquín Cordero(Carlos), Javier Loya (Miguel), Elda Peralta(Luisa, doctor), Eva Calvo (Rita, Nurse); Runtime: 76; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Sergio Kogan/Oscar Dangigers; Facets Video; 1952-Mexico-in Spanish with English subtitles)
“A decent film but without the acclaimed filmmaker’s usual surrealism, as it had more commercial aspirations than most of his films.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A rarely seen film from the period Luis Buñuel (“The Exterminating Angel”/”Tristana”/”Los Olvidados”) spent in Mexico. It’s a routine melodrama about an unhappily married young woman, Rosario (Rosario Granados), locked into a loveless marriage with an insensitive older man Don Carlos Montero (Julio Villarreal). The poor but attractive woman when a teenager was pushed by her family into the marriage with the well-heeled antique store owner Don Carlos Montero, who hates the lower-classes, is a glutton and a tyrant at home. Don Carlos locks his son Carlos in his room when the principal calls and tells dad his son is a thief. The kid runs away from home and is soon discovered at the roadside work-site of refined hunky engineer geologist Julio Mistral (Tito Junco), who returns the kid to his parents. Rosario and Julio have an instant attraction, and plan to run away together to Brazil with the kid (divorce would mean losing the kid for her), but her hubby has a heart attack and she remains to nurse him. When Don Carlos recovers, Rosario breaks off the brief fling with the man she loves to stay with the man she doesn’t love. The romantic Julio can’t live a life of deceit and pushes on to Brazil.

Rosario raises her two sons, who grow up to become doctors. Twenty five years later, the former lover dies in Brazil and leaves a big inheritance to her youngest son Miguel (Javier Loya). This causes the older son Carlos (Joaquín Cordero) to be bitter that the fortune was left to the recent medical school grad Miguel and clearly inferior doctor. Carlos is a dedicated doctor, who hoped to open a clinic and do research. But dad used the dough instead for a complicated real estate deal. Miguel, an instant millionaire, now opens the clinic and offers the directorship to Carlos. But Carlos feels insulted, as Miguel also marries older brother’s former girlfriend, the one he still loves, the lady doctor Luisa (Elda Peralta). It concludes with a pained mom telling her boys the truth and explaining her actions by saying “Mine was not a shameful affair, only an impossible union.” With that an emotionally crippled Carlos, filled with jealousy, shame and a dislike for women as deceivers, runs off to the Tropics to nurse his wounds and learn to forgive mom.

It’s based on the story Pierre et Jean by Guy de Maupassant and is written byBuñuel, Rudolpho Usigli and Jaime Salvador.

Buñuel considered it his worst film. It was based on the 1943 French film Pierre et Jean by André Cayatte, and shot on a shoestring budget in black and white. The great Buñuel navigates the soap opera plot by exposing the characters for their selfishness, patriarchal view of relationships and bourgeois hypocrisies, and does his usual turn rebuking the conformists for not following their heart but the dictates of society. It turns out to be a decent film but without the acclaimed filmmaker’s usual surrealism, as it had more commercial aspirations than most of his films. Nevertheless I still found it a film that Buñuel misjudged and should be proud of, it was better than he thought.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”