Review: ‘The Violet Look’

The thirtysomething confusions of its protagonist fail to generate drama in "The Violet Look," a take on women's sexual freedom that ends up looking confused itself. Conceived by thesp Cayetana Guillen Cuervo as a vehicle for herself, the overlong, dialogue-heavy pic remains monotone, with Guillen struggling but failing to make her charmless anti-heroine appealing.

The thirtysomething confusions of its eponymous protagonist fail to generate decent drama in “The Violet Look,” a take on women’s sexual freedom that ends up looking confused itself. Largely conceived by high-profile thesp Cayetana Guillen Cuervo as a vehicle for herself, the overlong, dialogue-heavy pic, despite its colorful title, remains dramatically monotone, with watchable Guillen struggling but failing to make her basically charmless anti-heroine appealing. Pic is unlikely to generate much passion anywhere.

Translator Violeta (Guillen, in every scene) is torn between betrothal and biology: On the one hand, she needs a steady relationship, but on the other, she’s just a girl who wants to have fun in the boudoir. Pic shows Violeta’s extended torture of teacher and wannabe novelist b.f., the sad-eyed Ari (Alberto Jimenez), by having affairs with just about every boy she meets, including Ari’s workmate, Raul (Chisco Amado), and 17-year-old student Andres (Nilo Mur).

Violeta’s best friend, Berta (underrated Isabel Ordaz), has hopes of an affair with sexy animal doctor Ivan (Roberto Enriquez). But Violeta dashes Berta’s expectations by going to Ivan’s house in the country, which he shares with his bro, Sergio (Asier Etxeandia), and sleeping with him, too.

Pic’s threadbare point seems to be that, by sleeping around and wounding the feelings of everyone around her — men and women alike — Violeta is behaving no worse than many men, and has the right to enjoy her sexual freedom. But Violeta comes over as an egotistical bull in an emotional china shop, interesting as a concept but one-sided as a character.

Performances, especially from three generations of actresses — including Julieta Serrano as Violeta’s mother, Ordaz, and Aida Folch as student Sofia — are fine. Pic’s main comic motif draws silly parallels between Violeta and her cat, which is eventually neutered.

The Violet Look

Spain

Production

A Columbia TriStar Spain release of a Mundo Ficcion, Violeta Films production, in association with TVE, Canal Digital. (International sales: Canal Mundo Ficcion, Madrid.) Produced by Miguel Torrente. Executive producers, Melchor Miralles, Augusto Prieto. Directed, written by Nacho Perez de la Paz, Jesus Ruiz.

Crew

Camera (color), Aitor Mantxola; editor, Fernando Pardo; art director, Federico G. Cambero; sound (DTS Digital), Ivan Marin. Reviewed at Cines Acteon, Madrid, May 1, 2004. (In Malaga Film Festival, competing.) Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Cayetana Guillen Cuervo, Alberto Jimenez, Roberto Enriquez, Asier Etxeandia, Isabel Ordaz, Julieta Serrano, Chisco Amado, Nilo Mur, Aida Folch.
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