In 1919, demobbed, Gerald Brenan rents a house for a year in Yegen, a village in Alpujarra. He has little but a love of reading and writing. He's soon the center of attention from his maid,...
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José Luis Cuerda
Fernando Fernán Gómez,
In 16th century Venice, when a merchant must default on a large loan from an abused Jewish moneylender for a friend with romantic ambitions, the bitterly vengeful creditor demands a gruesome payment instead.
Three children, a woman and two men, friends meet many years later again. Thus arises a triangle: at a vertex, the sex; in another, love; and in the Middle, the protagonist made a mess. ... See full synopsis »
In 1919, demobbed, Gerald Brenan rents a house for a year in Yegen, a village in Alpujarra. He has little but a love of reading and writing. He's soon the center of attention from his maid, María, who has a marriageable daughter, Ángeles; from Paco, a man who decides to guide Gerald in the ways of the village and of love; from the town's priest, his landlady, her friend who loves St. Teresa, and, from Juliana, a teen beauty who's the daughter of a witch. Gerald must sort out his feelings and face down the machinations of the town's women, who map a future he doesn't want. What he wants is romance. How far from his class and country can he venture, and for how long?Written by
Having myself lived in an Andalusian pueblo for the better part of a year (albeit in 2004) I found myself amused by some of the similarities between my own "modern" experiences and those of Geraldo in this light-hearted romantic comedy -- particularly the dumb-struck way in which he initially blunders about in a world that is in many ways completely alien to him. Also quite familiar was the tightness of the community, the openness, the love of the art of conversation, the desire (as embodied in the character of Paco) to find any reason to throw a party, and of course, the wonderful, passionate Flamenco.
The village characters, less than fully fleshed-out individuals but more than stereotypes, are in some ways archetypes of the times. Much of Andalusia was impoverished in that time period (another familiarity to me, having grown up in a small, poor rural town in the US) -- and yes, as in all such places, there are the machinations for dominance in the village, the matrimonial plotting of the town matriarchs, and even the mystique embodied, however clumsily, by the gangly English foreigner Geraldo, who has arrived looking only inspiration, but finds himself rather lost and quickly swept away by the engines of fate.
Far from being a "serious" film, this comedy depicts well the clash of Geraldo's naive artistic intentions with what life in this poor Andalusian town, to which he is so completely new, actually provides him. The film serves as a metaphor of more modern times in Andalusia as well, with so many Britons and other northerners having relocated to the Spanish Mediterranean -- bringing with them the two-edged sword of wealth and development, which has lifted much of Andalusia out of poverty in recent decades, but subverted a good deal of passionate tradition as well. Little pueblos evolve into bedroom communities for British, Dutch and German retirees and wealthy vacationers, and new golf resorts spring up like weeds. The transformation of Andalusiua, depicted in a simplistic way in the film, continues.
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