Review: ‘Sagittarius’

An ambitious, long-gestated debut from vet novelist and film critic Vicente Molina Foix, "Sagittarius" places the troubled emotional lives of a group of thirty- and fortysomethings under the microscope with varying success.

An ambitious, long-gestated debut from vet novelist and film critic Vicente Molina Foix, “Sagittarius” places the troubled emotional lives of a group of thirty- and fortysomethings under the microscope with varying success. Some of its multiple storylines work better than others, some of its many perfs are better than others, and pic often lapses into pretentiousness. However, the final sensation is of an intelligent and mature attempt to reveal the illusory nature of desire in a society that promises much and delivers little. Too brainy and dialogue-driven for mass consumption, film has done decently at home since opening in late June. Offshore, fests remain the likeliest prediction.

Rosa (Angela Molina) is a divorced painter given to pouring her heart out to an old friend, gay actor Jaime (Eusebio Poncela) — like her, born under the sign of Sagittarius. Both are fortysomethings in pursuit of love.

After clairvoyant Andronica (Julieta Serrano) predicts Rosa will have relationships with three men, Rosa ends up sleeping with architect Gustavo (Daniel Freire), an Argentinean. Jaime ends up with Omar (Jacobo Martin), who is involved in a foreign cult.

Meanwhile, pizza delivery boy Juan (Enrique Alcides) gets together with struggling actress Ana (Maria Isasi), the daughter of Greta (Mirtha Ibarra), who runs the hostel where Gustavo is staying. Juan also tries to impress Rosa, while Rosa’s ex-husband, the enigmatic Fated Man (Bob Wilson), is hopelessly composing love poetry to her.

Pic stretches over several years (passing time is clumsily signaled by flashed dates and days). There’s plenty of soul-searching, and the heartfelt dialogue is well scripted and generally well played, but sometimes goes on much too long. Characterization is not always up to scratch as the script struggles to give every member of its large cast sufficient dramatic motivation.

Poncela can be a powerful screen presence — most recently in Adolfo Aristarain’s “Martin Hache” (1999) — but here he is given free rein to camp it up as gay Jaime, and the results do not always make pretty viewing. Molina, however, is guaranteed to lend power and depth to any project: Here she revels in her part, breathing naturalness and spontaneity, alert to every nuance of events around her.

Sagittarius

Spain

Production

A Lauren Films release of a Fernando Colomo P.C. production, in association with Via Digital. (International sales: Fernando Colomo, Madrid.) Produced by Beatriz de la Gandara. Directed, written by Vicente Molina Foix.

Crew

Camera (color), David Omedes; editor, Antonio Lara; music, Luis Ivars; art director, Soledad Sesena; sound (Dolby), Agustin Peinado. Reviewed at Cine Renoir, Madrid, June 24, 2001. Running time: 112 MIN.

With

Rosa - Angela Molina Jaime - Eusebio Poncela Juan - Enrique Alcides Gustavo - Daniel Freire Ana - Maria Isasi Rafa/Omar - Jacobo Martin Greta - Mirtha Ibarra Mari - Monica Randall Gustavo - Hector Alterio Luisa - Ana Torrent Andronica - Julieta Serrano Fated Man - Robert Wilson
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