elderly people's romance in a geriatric rest house in the Pyrenees
The main reason I taped this movie yesterday is that I wanted to see how Rosanna Yanni (a sex-symbol of many European co-productions and Spanish sexy-comedies in the 60's and 70's) looked in 2002, and I expected her role to be very small. The second reason I taped it is because my mother is a big fan of Lola Herrera and she had the main feminine lead in this movie. I also expected the movie to be rather boring and uninteresting. I was glad to see that Rosanna Yanni had aged well and looked good playing an attractive, chic, smart, and rather outspoken blonde manager/employee that gets involved and interacts a lot with the many elderly (and some very elderly) clients that live in a mix of clinic-rest house set near Jaca in the Pyrinean mountains (in Aragón, northern Spain). Even if she hasn't got any individual scene, and was granted only a few scattered close-ups, she manages to became a stimulating presence throughout a very slow and rather depressing movie. I felt relieved to see she is presented as an attractive and relatively young middle-aged woman, a widow who recently moved from Buenos Aires to work in Spain, and was not one of the many elderly people that populated the movie. I was delighted to notice that her voice was not dubbed, like they often did in her heydays, as here she plays an Argentinian. Other than that, the movie portrays the romance between two people that re-encounter there 50 years after the Spanish civil-war had shattered their projects and dreams to undertake a life together in the USA, where he would later became a teacher of history at the University of Philadelphia. Many flashbacks alternate that portray the two people as very good-looking adolescents and youngsters in their several encounter that took place in the 1920's and 1930's in the same site where later the rest house would be built. When the two of them meet they have aged a lot and they don't recognise their first (apparently 100% platonic) love in their now late-sexagenarian bodies and faces. The young actors who portray the two main characters are pretty but sound rather luck-luster, probably because of a very old-fashioned script (cliché ridden) intended to stress how they were pure, innocent, etc. In addition, the re-encounter of the sexagenarians is written in a very pedestrian way, and often the work of the camera seems to be done as if they were just trying to film a theatrical play. I think that the beautiful landscapes of the Pyrennees were nearly-wasted, which is really a pity, and the movie seemed to focus too much in the past of time, cemeteries, different diseases and death which contributed to make it a rather feel-bad movie. Lola Herrera is a great professional actress, but here at times she delivered her lines as if addressing to an audience who was indeed a theatre public. Their romance and their theoretically witty and smart dialogue of people who have lived and survived many experiences seemed often too conventional. Yet, the plot tries unsuccessfully to counterbalance this overwhelming feeling of decadence, boredom, and sadness. For instance, it tries to contrast the sexagenarian couple's relative youngness and charm with the irrationality of bored octogenarian women who live only for gossip (very well played by real-life octogenarian Maria Isbert, and by septuagenarian Asunción Balaguer), but overall the main characters look as tired and lifeless as the movie itself. I'm glad Rossana Yanni was back to movies as an attractive sexagenarian who could play a bit younger characters, but sad to see that after this movie she seems to have retired once again. Did she find this late experience so unrewarding?
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