(director/writer: Carlos Saura; screenwriters: story by Carlos Saura/Rafael Azcona/Angelino Fons; cinematographer: Luis Cuadrado; editor: Pablo González del Amo; music: Teddy Bautista/Luis de Pablo; cast: Geraldine Chaplin (Elena/Ana), José Luis López Vázquez (Julián), Alfredo Mayo (Pablo), Emiliano Redondo (Arturo), María José Charfole (Child), Francisco Venegas (Child), Pedro Luis Lozano (Child), Víctor Manuel Moreno (Child), Ana María Custodio (Julián’s mother), Fernando Sánchez Polack (Patient); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Elías Querejeta; Janus; 1967-Spain-in Spanish with English subtitles)
“A lesser Vertigo-like tale about a repressed middle-aged doctor, who is erotically obsessed over a girl he once saw at a demonstration during his youth.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Carlos Saura (“Carmen”/”Tango”/”Goya in Bordeaux”)dedicates his surreal black comedy film to Luis Bunuel. The art house film gets past Franco’s censors because its subversive gestures are too subtle. It’s a lesser Vertigo-like tale about a repressed middle-aged doctor, who is erotically obsessed over a girl he once saw at a demonstration during his youth. It’s based on a story by Saura and is written by the director, Rafael Azcona and Angelino Fons.Geraldine Chaplin has a dual role, which she handles well.
Loner, unassuming nice guy, Julian (José Luis López Vázquez), is a doctor, running a radiology clinic, living a quiet life of comfort. Julian works closely with his shy, plain looking nurse Ana (Geraldine Chaplin). Things stir inside Julian again when his childhood best friend Pablo (Alfredo Mayo), an adventurer, returns from Africa with the youthful, animated, attractive bride Elena (Geraldine Chaplin), and she rekindles memories of his ideal woman–a young girl he remembers playing a ceremonial drum during a Good Friday ceremony. Julian is convinced Elena was that girl, but she does not remember such an incident. When Julian can’t seduce Elena, he finds it easier to seduce the trusting Ana and dresses her to look like Elena. Julian loses track of reality and his repressions cause him to become unhinged, as he tragically acts out his crazed desire when all the film’s main participants converge at his week-end retreat.
Saura’s allegorical pic compares its psychological thriller melodrama to the horrors of the Franco regime on modern society, where even long-standing friendships come into question and rationality is jettisoned for extreme reactions.
REVIEWED ON 8/6/2011 GRADE: B-