|Index||2 reviews in total|
Released a decade after Stonewall, the same year as the more broadly
successful farce LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, and almost a decade before
Almodovar's break-through to the U.S. market, LAW OF DESIRE, EL
DIPUTADO was a terribly important film for a generation of young gay
men hungry to see their problems treated with respect and intelligence.
Without even intending to, it reopened the doors to appreciating
subtitled "foreign" films for many of them.
One wishes EL DIPUTADO seemed more dated today as it looks at a well meaning bisexual socialist candidate for office (and his attractive, understanding wife) in a Spain still dominated by Franco fascists using every dirty trick to hold onto power after Franco's death as the country struggled to re-establish a real democracy under King Juan-Carlos, but in vividly recalling the British landmark film, THE VICTIM, which focused on the statutes repressing gays (once rightly called "The Blackmailer's Bill of Rights"), instead it rings painfully true and even relevant.
José Sacristán as the troubled socialist Deputy, Roberto Orbea is utterly charming and holds his own in part thanks to the appropriate political charisma of María Luisa San José as his wife Carmen. One might expect the charismatic Ángel Pardo as the dangerous hustler, Nes, to be the third driving force in the film (and his scenes do sizzle), but it is the layered lost innocence of José Luis Alonso's Juanito (the street kid Orbea becomes obsessed with) on which the film and Orbea's fate turn.
In 1978, EL DIPUTADO was marketed as a "gay film," and that was probably the only way it could have been accepted then, but in more enlightened times, it stands out for any audience as an excellent examination of the hypocrisy of right wing politics, and the problems we create for good men AND women when we force them into false roles by denying them the solace and support of marriage because they love the wrong people.
Well-written and very well-acted, "El Diputado" is a very human take on
a story of political and sexual intrigue in recently-post-Franco
Madrid. The politician Roberto Orbea (José Sacristán) is set up by
political opponents, aware of his secret proclivities, for sexual
entanglement with the street hustler Juanito (José Luis Alonso). But
the unexpected happens and Juanito begins to experience real feelings
of love for Orbea, and the political opponents, when the suspect they
are being played, are none too happy about this. Mariá Luisa San José
is Orbea's almost unbelievably understanding wife.
The three principal actors do some really wonderful work, aided by some very good writing, as members of the love triangle--sterling examples of the "less is more" approach to acting. The viewer feels real compassion for these all-too-human characters, in stark contrast to a movie like "Making Love"--the love-triangle plot reminded me of it, albeit very superficially--which opted for caricatures over actual people.
The look of the movie is real '70's, which only adds to it's immediacy and charm.
A very entertaining movie that seems to me to be ripe for re-release on DVD.
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