×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

In Praise of Older Women

Helmer Manuel Lombardero's "In Praise of Older Women" is a rites-of-passager that fails to provide any new angles on an overworked genre and Stephen Vizinczey's bestseller. Though pic is lovely to look at and has a healthy lack of political correctness, these are not sufficient to compensate for a surprisingly slapdash script from vet Rafael Azcona. A physically gorgeous cast, largely composed of emerging Spanish talent, should make it a modest hit at home, but pic's failure to ignite the emotions is unlikely to win it the praise of offshore auds. Andres (Miguel A. Garcia as a teen, growing into an androgynous young man played by Juan Diego Botto) is sent home to his mother at the start of the Spanish Civil War. He sets off on his bicycle but is intercepted by a group of Republican soldiers and taken to live with them in their camp. Having become an anarchist without knowing what the word means, he discovers the erotic in the flirtatious form of a British countess (Faye Dunaway), a tourist who has been stranded by the war and who sleeps with both cruel anarchist Davalos (Imanol Arias) and Andres during her stay.

With:
Andres ..... Juan Diego Botto Andres, at age 15 ..... Miguel A. Garcia Countess ..... Faye Dunaway Irene ..... Carmen Elias Marta ..... Joanna Pacula Pilar ..... Rosana Pastor Davalos ..... Imanol Arias Bobi ..... Florence Perniel Julia ..... Ingrid Rubio Victor ..... Angel de Andres Lopez

The countess is the first older woman whom Andres will encounter in his sub-Freudian search across Spain for his mother. When the countess and her husband leave, Andres is taken to live with Julia (wide-eyed Ingrid Rubio), with whom he makes awkward adolescent love in one of pic’s more successful scenes. Later imprisoned by the fascists, Andres is picked up by his mother, Irene (Carmen Elias), at the end of the war, and taken to live with her and Falangist boyfriend Victor (Angel de Andres Lopez), leading Andres to reflect that he was freer during war than he is during peacetime.

He still has three more women to meet before his sentimental education is complete: earth mother Pilar (Rosana Pastor), from the Republican camp, with whom he literally rolls in the hay; architect’s wife and anti-Fascist intellectual Marta (a non-lip-synched Joanna Pacula), and lively Italian violinist Bobi (Florence Perniel), who is more or less his own age and with whom he falls in love.

Quite why these women are so willing to jump into bed with Andres is never established — unless it is because of Botto’s fabulous eyelashes — and it becomes hard to see pic as anything more than unreconstructed male fantasy. The actresses look like a catalog of different versions of feminine beauty, and Dunaway, though effective, is shot by Jose Luis Alcaine as though she is in a face cream ad.

Pic’s episodic structure means that the script picks up women and drops them as quickly as Andres does. Dramatically, this might have worked if we were allowed to trace the complexities of his spiritual development. But, apart from a few voiceovers from him as narrative links, we are never allowed into his mind.

Botto struggles bravely with a role that is too insubstantial to allow pic to cohere into anything more than the sum of its parts. Despite intermittently witty dialogue, scripter Azcona uncharacteristically fails to turn ideas into action. The political theme is treated similarly sketchily: What is the point of running away from Franco’s Spain to Mussolini’s Italy?

The selection of accompanying songs is entertaining and appropriate, and production values are good, with some memorably lensed landscapes.

In Praise of Older Women

Spanish

Production: A Sogepaq release (in Spain) of a Sogetel/LolaFilms production, with collaboration of Canal Plus (Spain) and Sogepaq. (International sales: Sogepaq, Madrid.) Produced by Andres Vicente Gomez. Directed by Manuel Lombardero. Screenplay, Rafael Azcona, based on the novel by Stephen Vizinczey.

Crew: Camera (color), Jose Luis Alcaine; editor, Ernest Blasi; art direction, Josep Rosell; costume design, Lala Huete; sound (Dolby), Licio Marcos de Oliveira; associate producers, Fernando de Garcillan, Antonio Saura. Reviewed at Cine Lope de Vega, Madrid, April 11, 1997. Running time: 101 MIN.

With: Andres ..... Juan Diego Botto Andres, at age 15 ..... Miguel A. Garcia Countess ..... Faye Dunaway Irene ..... Carmen Elias Marta ..... Joanna Pacula Pilar ..... Rosana Pastor Davalos ..... Imanol Arias Bobi ..... Florence Perniel Julia ..... Ingrid Rubio Victor ..... Angel de Andres Lopez

More Film

  • 'All These Small Moments' Review

    Film Review: 'All These Small Moments'

    The magic of writer-director Melissa B. Miller Costanzo’s “All These Small Moments” can be found within the intimacy of the scenarios, the authenticity of her earnest characterizations, and the accessibility of the actors’ honest performances. In her deftly polished directorial debut, Costanzo dovetails the primary story about a teen’s coming of age with a secondary [...]

  • Bruce Tufeld Dead: Hollywood Agent and

    Hollywood Agent and Manager Bruce Tufeld Dies at 66

    Bruce Tufeld, a Hollywood agent and manager who once repped stars like Rob Lowe, Laura Dern, and Kelsey Grammer, died Tuesday in Los Angeles as a result of complications from liver cancer. He was 66. The son of respected television announcer Richard “Dick” Tufeld and Adrienne Tufeld, Bruce began his career as an assistant at ICM [...]

  • Bruce Dern

    Film News Roundup: Bruce Dern's 'The Lears' Bought by Vertical for February Release

    In today’s film news roundup, Bruce Dern’s “The Lears” and “Angels Are Made of Light” are acquired, Cold War drama “Stanley Cage” is launched and a documentary about Madonna’s early music career gets a release. ACQUISITIONS Vertical Entertainment has acquired North American rights from NeoClassics Films to “The Lears,” starring Bruce Dern in a modern-day [...]

  • Octavia Spencer Bryce Dallas Howard

    Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard to Reunite for Comedy 'Fairy Tale Ending'

    Octavia Spencer and Bryce Dallas Howard will reunite for the ensemble comedy “Fairy Tale Ending.” Jim Hecht (“Ice Age: The Meltdown) and Tracy McMillan (“Marvel’s Runaways”) are writing the screenplay. Howard will also produce the Universal movie through her Nine Muses Entertainment alongside Eric Carlson and Susan Carlson. Seth MacFarlane and Erica Huggins will produce [...]

  • Robert Smith, Longtime Executive at DuArt

    Robert Smith, Longtime Executive at New York's DuArt Film Labs, Dies at 88

    Robert Smith, a longtime executive with New York’s DuArt Film Labs, died Jan. 11 in Montvale, N.J. He was 88. Smith spent some 62 years with DuArt, the film processing and post-production facility founded in 1922 in the penthouse of an automobile garage in Midtown. Smith rose to president of DuArt before retiring in 2015. [...]

  • Bird Box

    Los Angeles On-Location Feature Filming Surges 12.2% in 2018

    On-location feature filming in Greater Los Angeles expanded impressively in 2018, gaining 12.2% to 4,377 shooting days, according to FilmL.A. Production activity for feature films rose 15.5% to 1,078 shooting days during the fourth quarter, with 146 days coming from projects receiving California tax credits — including Netflix’s “Bird Box,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content