Bridge the gap. Mother and daughter (Galiana and Fernandez) struggle with their past.

dir-scr Benito Zambrano
with Ana Fernandez, Maria Galiana, Carlos Alvarez Novoa, Paco De Osca, Miguel Alcibar, Juan Fernandez, Antonio Dechent
release UK 20.Jul.01
99/Spain 1h38
3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E

A sensitive examination of the effects of machismo, this beautifully made film isn't entire satisfying, but it does touch on some powerful truths. Maria (Ana Fernandez) is a loner in the big city--under-employed and struggling, with bad taste in men. Her current boyfriend (Juan Fernandez) has left her pregnant, and couldn't care less. Then her domineering father (De Osca) is brought to the city for surgery, and while he's in hospital her mother (Galiana) stays with her. But these two women can hardly speak--they hardly know each other and both have been stunned into silence by this cruel, controlling man. As they try to break down the barriers, Ana's mother befriends a lonely, elderly neighbour (Novoa) ... perhaps the first nice man either has ever met.

The themes are presented a bit simplistically--in black and white terms, men are scum and women are victims. But the truth is no less powerful. This is due to Zambrano's natural, insightful direction, which is full of subtlety and nuance and draws out strong performances from the two central actresses. These characters are so well played that we can fully understand their wants and regrets, even without them saying a word--the divisiveness of their father, the profound sadness of their situations, the powerless desire to help each other, the tentative relationship with their neighbour. And when Maria's bitterness crumbles at the end, it's all the more touching and meaningful.
themes, language cert 12? 30.Apr.01

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2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall