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Put-Upon Women

Four friends dump their husbands, abandon their kids and pact for a better life in "Put-Upon Women," a far-fetched contemporary Mexican romp withspunky heroines and redeeming social overtones. A catchy lead perf goes a long way toward smoothing over a crowded grab-bag of muddled issues and plot points requiring constant suspension of disbelief. Fests and Spanish-lingo territories could nibble.

Four friends dump their husbands, abandon their kids and pact for a better life in “Put-Upon Women,” a far-fetched contemporary Mexican romp withspunky heroines and redeeming social overtones. A catchy lead perf goes a long way toward smoothing over a crowded grab-bag of muddled issues and plot points requiring constant suspension of disbelief. Fests and Spanish-lingo territories could nibble.

In a series of brutally expedient opening sequences, the heroines are introduced: One receives a savage beating during which her husband deliberately breaks her finger, another is saddled with a self-involved premature ejaculator. Matters aren’t any better at work, where insensitive and lecherous bosses hold sway.

Mad as hell and determined not to take any more abuse, Rosa, Cloti and Isobel run away under the provisional leadership of Ema (Patricia Reyes Spindola), sexiest of the bunch. Escaping from their provincial town to Guadalajara, then Tijuana and eventually Los Angeles, they begin by working in a semi-sleazy club run by an understanding woman and work their way up to owning a Mexican restaurant in California.

One of the women drops out and returns home, one is pursued by her now-reformed hubby, and all struggle to balance womanly independence with those needs best served by a virile, preferably sensitive male companion.

Veteran scripter-helmer Alberto Isaac’s well-meaning, anti-macho, pro-feminist tale meanders too far into a subplot in which Ema embarks on a torrid affair with an angelic young stud who turns out to be an unscrupulous drug dealer.

The characters’ trajectory is a little too arbitrary throughout, and way too convenient toward pic’s conclusion. Still, although plagued by loose ends, the film manages to cover a lot of territory and allude to real issues between the sexes with an appealing measure of self-deprecating humor.

Tech aspects are more coherent than the script, and thesping is energetic, with Spindola an eye-catching anchor to the far-flung proceedings.

Put-Upon Women

(MUJERES INSUMISAS)

Production: (MEXICAN) Produced by Jaime Casillas. (International sales: Televicine, Mexico City.) Executive producer, Manuel Cristino. Directed, written by Alberto Isaac.

Crew: Camera (color), Tony Kuhn; editor, Carlos Savage; music, Walterio Pesqueira; art direction, Tere Pecanins; costume design, Abel Melo; sound, Jesus Carrasco. Reviewed at Amiens Film Festival (competing), France, Nov. 9, 1995. Running time: 115 MIN.

With: With: Patricia Reyes Spindola, Jose Alonso, Lourdes Elizarraras, Regina Orozco, Juana Ruiz, Juan Claudio Retes.

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