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"A Matador's Mistress" is a tragically eloquent dance of the cold brutality of uncommitted love and the high stakes of the Bullfight. Immerse yourself in the culture of Spain surrounding the age old traditions of the Matador. While the bullfight is controversial by today's standards, the ancient art-form is depicted with unflinching realism. The story is of man against beast, the bullfighter's zen, if you will; his nightly dance with death. A world-class lover enters his world; their code is their truth. Life being lived, edgy, relentlessly flirting with disaster, untamed, beautiful. Written by
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Since, after all, a movie is meant to be seen by an audience, I don't get what the director Meyjes expected from his work "Manolete".
Indeed, the "aficionados" (i.e. corrida-lovers) can only feel outraged by the huge amount of falsities and distortions, concerned with both life and personality of the actual Manolete, that one finds in the movie. On the other hand, the large majority of people, being corrida-haters, will be uninterested, if not deeply bored, by a straightforward love story of a torero and his mistress, worth of a cheap XIXth century novel. (The actual love story of Manolete and Lupe Sino was much more psychologically intriguing than the stuff shown in the movie.)
Speaking of the movie, the photography is fine, and the costumes are beautiful. The jobs of Brody as the torero and Penelope Cruz as Lupe Sino are acceptable. There is some very short but interesting 1940s footage of the true Manolete fighting in the plaza de toros. However, the film badly fails in recreating the atmosphere of Spain in the years after the civil war.
Indeed, the inaccuracies of the movie are really dismaying. Lupe Sino is surprised seeing that a torero wears pink socks. C'mon! It's like showing a young American woman not knowing that football players wear helmets! Manolete enters a crowded hall, participates to parties, and everybody ignores him. C'mon! It's like seeing Michael Jordan unnoticed at a meeting of basketball fans! Manolete's popularity was literally unbelievable all over the world, among common people, as well as among big time politicians and major cinema stars, that fought to have him at their social events. A couple of instances. When Manolete died, Winston Churchill sent a personal message of condolence to his mother. The Mexican government was forced to cut some scheduled corridas, since people didn't buy food to save money for the tickets of Manolete's bullfights (source: "Time Magazine" year 1946).
The movie also contains a number of so obvious clichés, like the torero's greedy relatives, or the fatuous and hypocritical catholic priests, or the incompetent doctors (this latter a really dirty slander!), etc. Of course, to know something of the actual Manolete, you have to neglect the character shown in the movie, and rather read some of the dozens of books dedicated to him, even in very recent years. Indeed, I bet that in this very moment someone is writing a book on the legendary torero.
The portrait made of Lupe Sino is liable of aggravated defamation. Forget that Lupe was much younger and more beautiful than Cruz, and that, obviously, she was an aficionada, contrary to the character of the movie. Forget that Lupe was a smiling, sweet-tempered, cheerful girl, deeply in love with her man, contrary to the perpetual ferocious grudge against everybody and everything shown by Cruz's "Lupe". What is unacceptable is that the film- maker turns her into an unfaithful, spiteful, foul-mouthed bum.
As far as I know, the movie "Manolete" was badly unsuccessful, as predictable. I didn't like it.
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