Sunday, May 17, 2009

Belle Époque (1992) [R] *****

Belle Époque (The Age of Beauty), is Spain's brief period of freedom and tranquility between the end of the monarchy and the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. The film stars Jorge Sanz as Fernando, an innocent, young army deserter wandering the Spanish countryside. He finds himself at the home of Don Manolo (Fernando Fernan Gomez) a wealthy, aging artist with four beautiful daughters. Unable to believe his good fortune, Fernando cannot decide which of the girls to romance. The girls decide for him and each of them seduces Fernando in turn. The daughters include Violeta (Ariadna Gil), adventurous and bisexual; Rocio (Maribel Verdu), glamorous, sensuous and free-spirited; Clara (Miriam Diaz Aroca), a repressed widow who yearns for a companion; and Luz (Penélope Cruz) - the youngest, a virgin who wishes she were not.

Don Manolo's home becomes a kind of paradise for Fernando. He has everything he could wish for: freedom, friendship, love, sex, stimulating conversation, cuisine, art... all the things that make life interesting. Of course we know that it cannot last. There is political turmoil under the surface. Four forces - the monarchy, the church, fascism and communism - are contesting for control of Spain, just as Don Manolo's four beautiful daughters are competing for Fernando's affections. Belle Époque won nine Goyas (Spanish Oscars) in 1992, as well as the 1994 Academy Award for best Foreign Language Film. It can be appreciated as a light bedroom farce, as a social commentary on 1930's Spain, or as an anti-war political statement. You can watch the DVD in Spanish with English subtitles, or with the English language soundtrack.

Labels: comedy, drama, French-language, romance
Internet Movie Database
Tomatometer (critics=94, viewers=77)