Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Spain/Italy, 1990. Iberoamericana Films Internacional, Television Espanola, Ellepi Films. Screenplay by Carlos Saura, Rafael Azcona, based on the play by Jose Sanchis Sinisterra. Cinematography by Jose Luis Alcaine. Produced by Andrés Vicente Gómez. Music by Alejandro Masso. Production Design by Rafael Palmero. Costume Design by Mercedes Sanchez Rau. Film Editing by Pablo G. del Amo. Toronto International Film Festival 1990.
The Spanish Civil War is in full swing and two travelling theatrical performers (Carmen Maura, Andrés Pajares) have to constantly play their cards right to survive the political situation they find themselves in (mostly by quashing their pro-Republican views). When they accidentally wander into enemy territory without realizing it, they are quartered and nearly killed until an Italian Fascist commander intervenes: he loves the theatre, and agrees to let them go in exchange for a pro-fascist performance. Maura definitely wants to survive, but isn’t sure if she can compromise her personal beliefs enough to betray her love of theatre in order to save hers and her husband’s lives. Based on the famous play by Jose Sanchis Sinisterra, this film is entertaining and provocative but not nearly captivating enough. Considering that it brought together one of Spain’s most popular directors (Carlos Saura) and one of the country’s biggest movie stars (Maura), there should have been a much bigger result.