***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** This modest little study of marital infidelity deliberately restricts itself to a narrow canvas. Its events all transpire in a single day, beginning with the bedside clock which bleeps at eight in the morning. Marta sets about the unappetising routine of her little middle-class life. We see her dropping off her teenage daughters, one at medical school and the other at the toddlers' play group where she works as an assistant.
The place is Pozuelo de Alarcon, an ugly, featureless suburb of Madrid. Marta chats with a neighbour in the supermarket then rides the suburban train into the city. Her world is bound by the confessional box and the shopping mall, both of which she visits without either enthusiasm or displeasure. They simply exist. They are the landmarks by which she navigates.
It is the dead of winter, with Christmas trees on sale in the Plaza Mayor. Director Miguel Angel Rivas uses the colourless, lifeless climate as a quiet commentary on Marta's life. The rail station at Pozuelo is unattractive and without any comfort, but at least the harsh environment gives Marta an excuse to wear her fancy fur coat. Madrid is shown in greys and browns, mirroring Marta's psychological drabness. "Vidal is my husband" is all she needs to say. What else does a bourgeois wife and mother need? Later, when the truth emerges, Vidal tells her, "You don't understand anything." It is true. Marta hasn't bothered to think or see for years.
Returning from the shopping expedition to Madrid, Marta walks in on Vidal kissing the voluptuous young Ana in the family's living-room. Ana Obregon, playing Marta, does a good job of putting across the wife's indignation, but why is her character so reluctant to confront Vidal directly about his treachery?
Ana is a character who suffers from insufficient thinking-through on the part of writer and director. "It wasn't for love or sex," she opines - so what was it for? She ends her affair with the PE teacher in order to concentrate on Vidal, but we are given no convincing explanation as to why she would do this. Most puzzling of all, why does she remain in the house after the discovery, pouting and enduring Marta's tirades?
The film has a nice little jazz score. I thought more could have been done with the redhead Nida.
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