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José Luis Garci
In the 50s some Spanish guy named Andres decides to visit Paris. A Spanish friend of his who lives there sets him up to stay with a Spanish family. They are some old hard core communists atheists self-exiled in France.
Andres wants to see Paris, the sights, the cabarets, but his friend is not interested in showing him the city. There's nothing to see, he claims. Finally they agree that the friend will bring some girls. After he leaves, Ninette arrives. She's the much younger and gorgeous daughter of the old couple. She meets Andres and immediately seduces him. They start a relationship. Ninette doesn't want to show him Paris either. And at this point Andres doesn't have much incentive to go out when he has Ninette.
So we spend time with them in the small living room. The old guy just wants to hear Andres tell stories from the home town. They prepare only Spanish meals for him when he was eager to try French food. When a conversation turns controversial the old timer quotes Lenin as an authority to put an end to all arguments.
Even though the trip was to last only two weeks, Andres apparently stays for months. One day Ninette announces she's pregnant. No one believes her for some reason. When she says the kid is Andres' they believe her even less.
That takes them all back to Spain. Andres and Ninette, her parents and his friend for some reason. We meet them one year later. Ninette's pregnancy turned out a lie. Andres has a store that sells religious figurines and artifacts. We are told that at first Ninette helped in the store and sales were great. But Andres got jealous so he banned her from working there so people wouldn't just go in the store to ogle at her. So Ninette spends her time sunbathing half naked and bored. Andres hired some grumpy lady to work on the store. His mindset is that staff should treat customers poorly so they go in, buy a single item, and leave. But Andres is falling for his assistant. They start an affair. Ninette and her mom notice this.
Now Ninette and her mom decide to open a store selling French clothes. She wants Andres to close his business and open up a Citroen dealership because her dad works in that business. That takes them back to Paris for a trip.
That's more or less the "story" here. It's not much of a story. Certainly not something that should take up almost two long hours. The entire movie is filmed in a few rooms in a soundstage. There are no exterior shots of anything. There certainly is no arc, no drama, no development. It's supposed to be a comedy I gather, although it's not particularly funny. Of course there are no funny lines, no jokes, no punchlines, no comebacks. It's not an American movie. I think what is supposed to be funny is how this movie reflects the character of Spanish people. But it's more, it reflects the character of all Hispanics in some sense and even of the immigrant mindset. No one cares about the host country one bit. All they do is reminisce about the old country, which they rarely visit. There's a some dynamic here between old conservative (even when they are communist) mindsets and the younger generation that feels like she belongs in the host country. Ninette is a caricature of a French girl- open minded, sexually open, so much so that Andres retorts at some point, in one of the few funny lines-- "What kind of morals do you have? what is this, Babylon?"
Ultimately this movie is all about seeing the stunning Elsa Pataky. She's cute, adorable, irresistible, stunning. And occasionally we do get to enjoy seeing her undressed, but not often enough. But not even she can save this dull mess of a movie. I can more or less see the spirit of what they were trying to do. And this movie does look and feel very much like a 50s movie. But they could have gone in a better way about it. Do check out the "making of" featurette to see more of Elsa's lovely natural attitude and smile.
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