When the single middle-aged Luis travels from Barcelona to bury the remains of his mother in the vault of his family in Segovia, he is lodged by his aunt Pilar in her old house where he ... See full summary »
When the single middle-aged Luis travels from Barcelona to bury the remains of his mother in the vault of his family in Segovia, he is lodged by his aunt Pilar in her old house where he spent his summer of 1936 with her. He meets his cousin Angelica, who was his first love, living on the first floor with her husband and daughter, and he recalls his childhood in times of the Spanish Civil War entwined with the present. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
For this year, I have decided to concentrate on movies favourably appraised by the two guides I grew up with Leslie Halliwell's and Leonard Maltin's or were otherwise mentioned in a couple of polls ranking the top films of all time. With this in mind, of about a score of Saura titles in my possession and which I had opted to schedule for viewing on the occasion of his birthday, the number has been reduced to just 5 and these are not necessarily among his more renowned or even intriguing efforts!
The film under review falls, to my mind, in the latter category despite its having won the Jury Prize at Cannes. Having now watched it for myself, there is no doubt that COUSIN ANGELICA is indeed worthy of merit; however, I must also admit that it was rather heavy-going an experience for a number of reasons. First off, it seems to me that certain native film-makers are obsessed with the Spanish Civil War since it regularly features in their work (as here), and yet the conflict eventually comes to have no real bearing on the central plot! In the same vein, there is a distinct whiff of anti-clericalism (including nightmarish visions of a worm-infested and stigmata-bearing nun) running through it but, again, no specific point is being made by this stance!
Incidentally, I wonder why such an ordinary title (which also misleadingly equates it with a contemporaneous sub-genre in Italian cinema!) was chosen for a film that is essentially so rich in subtext relating to the impossible love affair at the heart of the narrative between the single protagonist and his unhappily married cousin especially since several actors play multiple roles throughout while the hero remains the same, i.e. middle-aged, the entire time (even when supposed to be a child and, at one point, gets to see himself as he is imagining a meeting with his own long-dead parents)! Curiously enough, the end titles reveal that the film was dedicated to Charles and Oona Chaplin, the parents of Saura's then-companion (and frequent collaborator) Geraldine who, however, does not appear in this one...and I do wonder what the British comic made of the whole thing!
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