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Ourense, Spain, 1940. Every time that Elena locks the door, she locks her secrets. Her husband Ricardo spend years hidden in his house with his children (Elenita and Lorenzo), trying to dodge persecution. Salvador, a priest confused after battling in the front, returns to seminary in Ourense.Written by
A Spanish post-war drama directed by Jose Luis Cuerda and based on the novel of Alberto Mendez of the same title.
The story is set in the Spanish city of Orense, in Northern Spain, in the 1940s, and tells the story of a family of communists struggling to survive after the victory of the fascists in 1939. The father Ricardo -played by Javier Camera- declared dead, lives hidden in the family basement with his subversive and prohibited books, and types works on his wife's behalf to earn some money. The mother, Elena -played by Maribel Verdu- lives and acts as a widow who makes ends meet by sewing and typing. Their teenage daughter Elenita and her boyfriend Lalo -played by Irene Escolar and Martin Rivas- are involved in guerrilla activities but try to escape the country, while child Lorenzo -played by Roger Princep- goes to the children school in town. There, Gonzalo gets the eye of Fr Salvador -played by Raul Arevalo- a seminarian and fascist ex-soldier who feels immediately attracted to Elena.
The script is mediocre with stereotypical characters, predictable plot and events, and, most importantly, without emotion or heart. A soulless movie despite telling a story that should be moving and thought-provoking, and it ends being just pretentious. Nothing new in the exploration of the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War.
Regarding the acting, Maribel Verdú and Javier Camera do not believe what they are playing, and their performances are mediocre, much below their acting abilities and quality. Raul Arevalo is good in his portray of the confused tempted priest. The rest of the supporting actors are OK in their roles, but child Roger Princep was awful to watch.
There is nothing excellent or memorable about the film, just mediocrity. To be honest, the things I liked the most about this film were its atmosphere, the views of the Orense's city, and the title. While watching this movie I thought of a similar movie which, instead, showed all what this lacked in this - the Butterfly's Tongue.
Despite the script being so poor, perhaps because the novel was not, the scriptwriters won a Goya -the Spanish Oscar- to the best script in 2008. The movie was also selected to represent the Spanish cinema in the Oscars in the same year, but did not make the final cut.
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