The New York Times film reviewer, Stephen Holden, referred to this flick as being so close in spirit to the early films of Pedro Almodovar that the very existence of this Spanish frolic would be unthinkable without the masters having prepared the way. Believe me, this is no Almodovar movie. It is an attempt to emulate the master of the art form, but it ends up being a mishmash of shtick and adolescent humor.
A divorced woman, Sofia (Rosa Maria Sarda), announces to her three daughters that she has fallen in love with a woman, Elvira (Leonor Watling), a concert pianist 20 years her junior. The youngest daughter, Sol (Silvia Abascal), who is a rock-band singer, takes the news in stride. She composes a song in which she continuously sings that her mother is a lesbian, much to the consternation of her mother who is in the audience. The oldest daughter, Jimena (Maria Pujalte), and her husband are very conservative. They make it clear that they cannot accept Sofias relationship. The middle daughter, Elvira (Leonor Watling), who is neurotic and unsure of her own sexuality, is selected to break up the mothers affair by seeking to seduce Eliska.
From that point on, it is one shtick after another involving Elviras psychiatrist and an author whom she meets at her publishing job. We get a travelogue of the three sisters traveling to Prague. What we dont get is any effort to develop a relationship between Sofia and Elvira. Although the plot twists allowed for a much more affecting movie, at times the situations presented, even one at a lesbian bar, seem silly and without substance. The contrived ending is totally ridiculous. You can definitely skip this one. (In Spanish with English subtitles).
Interestingly, the desire for mainstream gay and lesbian films is so strong in those communities that the following conversation took place as I left the theater. A woman with her partner approached me and said, That is the best gay film I have ever seen. What did you think? I said, I thought it was adolescent. She replied, Im so glad that you liked it. She obviously heard what she wanted to hear.
The Mudge Boy (+)
This is a very sensitive, beautifully acted film about a 14-year-old boy, Duncan Mudge (Emile Hirsch), who lives on a farm with his father (Richard Jenkins). His mother recently died and father and son are clearly depressed.
Duncans pets are the chickens he raises whose eggs he collects and delivers to neighbors on his bicycle. One chicken is his favorite and accompanies him everywhere like a dog. Duncan is withdrawn and innocent, and with the exception of one older boy, Perry (Tom Guiry), he has no friends. Perry hangs around with three other guys who look, talk and act like tobacco road bullies. The four young men, sans Duncan, ride around in a pick-up truck with two young women getting drunk and having sex. A sexual incident takes place between Duncan and Perry. Angry at himself for allowing it to happen, Perry tells the three bullies that Duncan is a faggot, and then they torment him until Perry saves him.
The relationship between the father and son is poignant. Both are emotionally blocked and unable to reach out to each other in their bereavement. The ending is totally in sync with the two separate lives depicted. The film shows us the utter misery of a sexually conflicted boy growing up orphaned and lonely in an intensely homophobic culture. This film is well worth seeing.
- Ed Koch