(Vicente Aranda, Spain, 1991)


It is a strange tic of film reviewing in Australia that, whenever a Russian, Latin American or Asian movie with a period setting lands on our shores, it is immediately taken as the political allegory of that nation's history.

Thus, it only takes about a minute's worth of 1950s detail at the start of Lovers before this contemporary Spanish film is pounced on as a statement about life under the Franco regime. One may, however, be overly flattering writer-director Vicente Aranda by imputing such lofty intentions to him.

Lovers is an unambitious tale of amour fou based on a real-life case. A gormless young man (played by Jorge Sanz) finds himself lured from the frigid charms of his fiancée (Maribel Verdú) by his landlady (Victoria Abril, whose screen speciality is a combination of hysteria and sexiness).

The film has little on its mind. Its eroticism is tame, and soon dispensed with altogether for the sake of some mild intrigue involving blackmail and murder. And once the set is dressed in all its gloomy period bric-a-brac, Aranda shoots his scenes in a drearily by-the-numbers, telemovie fashion.

© Adrian Martin January 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
home    reviews    essays    search