dir Susan Seidelman|
scr James Myhre
with Judy Davis, Marcia Gay Harden, Lili Taylor, Juliette Lewis, Christopher Bowen, Maria Barranco, Courtney Jines, Pep Molina, Victor Alvaro
release UK Apr.01 llgff; US May.01
Sharp and vivid, with a colourful comic-noir vibe, Seidelman's new film is a thoroughly entertaining mystery romp. Cassandra (Davis) is an American in Barcelona surrounded by people as offbeat and surreal as the city's ubiquitous Gaudi architecture. She's trying to translate a Latin American novel into English, but needs to take other work to pay the rent to her friend/landlady Carmen (Barranco). Enter the femme fatale Frankie (Harden), an elusive and deeply dubious woman who hires Cassandra to find her husband. The trail leads to an odd family group--two lesbians (Taylor and Lewis), a gay man (Bowen) and a little girl (Jines). But no one is quite who they say they are. And for Cassandra the surprises are only beginning.
The twisted, convoluted plot is thoroughly engaging, even as it leaves logic and coherence in the dust from time to time in lieu of another bit of zany screwball comedy. Davis is hilarious, savouring every acerbic line and only slightly overdoing the wackiness; while Lewis is actually pretty good as an airhead new age earth mother type, and Taylor makes her butch dyke a person we care about. But Harden steals the show with an absolutely hilarious, edgier take on the kind of character Melanie Griffith would normally play. The no-one-is-who-they-seem theme is taken to extremes in the increasingly goofy screenplay as the gender chaos grows. And the ending is a bit sweet and tidy as all the various mother and daughter instincts are aroused just in time. But never mind, it's all in good fun.
"Hmmm ... I don't know. I found it all a bit too confusing and - can this be possible? - stereotyped in all its zaniness. Also, there was too much talk, too much running around and shouting without much motivation as far as I could tell. However it was, as always, a delight to watch Judy Davis - who else can manage to look sexy in a greenish moth-eaten wool jumper?" --Ilpo, Finland 6.Aug.02