×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Beyond the Garden

As a straightforward melodrama about the midlife crises of a Seville society hostess, Pedro Olea's "Beyond the Garden" works better than most examples of the genre. Pic has done excellent B.O. in its first few weeks at home, partly due to its being based on a novel by Antonio Gala ("Turkish Passion"), whose Spanish sales run into millions.

With:
Palmira ..... Concha Velasco Willy ..... Fernando Guillen Tario ..... Manuel Bandera Helena ..... Ingrid Rubio Alex ..... Miguel Hermoso Ugo ..... Andrea Occhipinti Bernardo ..... Giancarlo Giannini Ama ..... Mari Carrillo

As a straightforward melodrama about the midlife crises of a Seville society hostess, Pedro Olea’s “Beyond the Garden” works better than most examples of the genre. Pic has done excellent B.O. in its first few weeks at home, partly due to its being based on a novel by Antonio Gala (“Turkish Passion”), whose Spanish sales run into millions. Olea’s ambitious attempt to move the meller beyond the confines of a domestic setting makes the project interesting, if flawed. But pic is unlikely to do big offshore business.

Gala — most of whose readers are women — has a crafty eye for romance, and Olea has been commercially astute in deciding to emphasize this aspect of the story. Palmira (veteran Concha Velasco, here in a role in which histrionics are justified) is married to Willy (Fernando Guillen), a Seville ranch owner who is not fulfilling his marital duties. Her son is a sexually confused adolescent and her sister a lesbian, while her daughter, Helena (wide-eyed Ingrid Rubio, from Carlos Saura’s “Taxi”), is dating without Mom’s knowledge. This is a family on the verge of breakdown.

Absolutely everything goes wrong for poor Palmira. She sees Willy in a Madrid restaurant, having lunch with a pretty girl he’s picked up. Helena reveals she’s pregnant; the baby turns out to be a hemophiliac. Palmira’s son is killed in a motorcycle crash. And then his friend Alex (Miguel Hermoso) — a bisexual with whom Palmira herself has had a failed fling — reveals that her son was homosexual.

Throughout pic, Palmira — who never stops to ask whether she herself might be part of the reason for any of this — makes hesitant attempts to escape the drudgery by having dissatisfying affairs with Andalusian hardbodies. Her mind is also on her childhood lover, Bernardo (Giancarlo Giannini, full of lugubrious charm), who is working as a doctor in Rwanda.

Movie’s explosive last reel is set in a Rwandan refugee settlement — shot in Senegal — with Bernardo and Palmira on the verge of reconciliation and Palmira finally doing some good with her life. Helmer Olea captures the unimaginable human misery, and the final scene manages, against the odds, to be genuinely moving. But the impression that pic finally leaves is that the entire Rwandan tragedy is simply a backdrop for the menopausal problems of an Andalusian housewife — a way of helping her come to terms with herself. And there is something offensive in that.

The film picked up two acting nods at the recent Goya Awards — Rubio as new actress, and Mari Carrillo as supporting actress in the undemanding role of Bernardo’s mother. Tech credits are solid.

Beyond the Garden

Spanish

Production: A Sogepaq release (in Spain) of a Sogetel/Lola Films production, with collaboration of Canal Plus (Spain) and Sogepaq. (International sales: Sogepaq, Madrid). Produced by Andres Vicente Gomez. Directed by Pedro Olea. Screenplay, Mario Camus, based on the novel by Antonio Gala.

Crew: Camera (color), Jose Luis Alcaine; editor, Jose Salcedo; music, Nicola Piovani; art direction, Luis Valles; sound (Dolby), Miguel Rejas; associate producers, Antonio Saura, Fernando de Garcillan. Reviewed at Cine Acteon, Madrid, Jan. 28, 1997. Running time: 91 MIN.

With: Palmira ..... Concha Velasco Willy ..... Fernando Guillen Tario ..... Manuel Bandera Helena ..... Ingrid Rubio Alex ..... Miguel Hermoso Ugo ..... Andrea Occhipinti Bernardo ..... Giancarlo Giannini Ama ..... Mari Carrillo

More Film

  • Radegund

    Cannes Film Review: 'A Hidden Life'

    There are no battlefields in Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life” — only those of wheat — no concentration-camp horrors, no dramatic midnight raids. But make no mistake: This is a war movie; it’s just that the fight shown raging here is an internal one, between a Christian and his conscience. A refulgent return to form [...]

  • John Wick: Chapter 3

    Box Office: 'John Wick 3' Knocks Down 'Avengers: Endgame' With $57 Million Debut

    Earth’s Mightiest Heroes put up a good fight, but John Wick put at end to the three-week box office reign of “Avengers: Endgame.” Propelled by positive reviews, “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” beat expectations with a debut of $57 million from 3,850 North American locations. That was enough to nab the box office crown [...]

  • Game of Thrones Cast

    What's Next for 'Game of Thrones'' Cast Members

    Eight years and eight seasons later, the “Game of Thrones” cast finally has some downtime to relax or move onto other projects. Some stars, like Kit Harington, who told Variety that he doesn’t plan on taking another role as physically demanding as Jon Snow, certainly deserve a break, but others have wasted no time getting back on [...]

  • MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r)

    Submissions Now Welcome for Third 'Meet the Press' Film Festival

    Chuck Todd’s quest to bring “Meet the Press” to the movies continues. The third annual Meet the Press Film Festival, held in collaboration with the American Film Institute, will take place on October 6 and 7 in Washington, D.C., and remains a haven for issue-focused documentary shorts. Todd believes the event serves a critical mission: [...]

  • Challenges Still Keep Content From Traveling

    Cannes: Challenges Still Keep Content From Traveling to and From China

    Challenges still remain when it comes to buying, distributing and producing content that can travel between China and the West, attendees of a panel organized by the Shanghai Intl. Film Festival on the sidelines of Cannes said. Cai Gongming, president of Road Pictures, has hit box office gold in China with Cannes art-house titles such [...]

  • 180423_A24_Day_03B_0897.jpg

    Cannes Film Review: Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe in 'The Lighthouse'

    “The Lighthouse,” the second feature directed by Robert Eggers (“The Witch”), is a gripping and turbulent drama that draws on a number of influences, though it merges them into its own fluky gothic historical ominoso art-thriller thing. Set in the 1890s, and suffused with foghorns and epic gusts of wind, as well as a powerfully [...]

  • Cannes: Diao Yinan Explains His Artistic

    Diao Yinan on Cannes Pic 'Wild Goose Lake': 'I Try to Portray the Opposite of a Utopia'

    In competition in Cannes with “Wild Goose Lake,” director Diao Yinan explained Sunday why he’s fascinated by dark crime thrillers – and why his new film features dialogue in China’s Wuhan dialect. “Such thrillers are not only an exercise in style; they’re also full of dramatic tension, and when you combine style with dramatic tension, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content