Lead thesp Aitana Sanchez-Gijon has a luminous screen presence, but it's not enough to save "Yerma," a dark, slow-moving tragedy about a woman's desperate attempt to become pregnant. Most of the performances are oddly static, and the story, based on the play by Federico Garcia Lorca, is relentlessly depressing. Pic is not going to attract attention beyond the fest circuit and Eurotube slots.

Lead thesp Aitana Sanchez-Gijon has a luminous screen presence, but it’s not enough to save “Yerma,” a dark, slow-moving tragedy about a woman’s desperate attempt to become pregnant. Most of the performances are oddly static, and the story, based on the play by Federico Garcia Lorca, is relentlessly depressing. Pic is not going to attract attention beyond the fest circuit and Eurotube slots.

Yerma (Sanchez-Gijon) is stuck in an arranged marriage to Juan (Juan Diego). She and her husband have not been able to produce offspring, and she has become obsessed with pregnancy and children. At the same time, she becomes attracted to Victor (Jesus Cabrero), a fellow from the local village, but is not willing to risk breaking up her marriage to consummate her attraction to the mysterious fellow. Writer-director Pilar Tavora fails to bring this rather dated tale to life, and she makes it hard to sympathize with any of the characters. Sanchez-Gijon is memorable in the title role, but the other thesps deliver wooden, one-dimensional perfs. Tech credits are fine.

Yerma

Spain

Production

An Artimagen Producciones production. Produced by Carlos Jorge Fraga. Directed by Pilar Tavora. Screenplay, Tavora, based on the play by Federico Garcia Lorca.

Crew

Camera (color), Acacio D'Almeida; editor, Tavora; music, Vicente Sanchis. Reviewed at World Film Festival, Montreal (World Cinema), Aug. 30, 1999. Running time: 111 MIN.

With

Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Juan Diego, Irene Papas, Mercedes Bernal, Jesus Cabrero, Maria Galiana, Milagrosa Lozano, Anna Aguilar.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more