Thursday, October 10, 2013

"A Matador's Mistress" with Adrian Brody and Penelope Cruz (2011)

I have been a fan of Adrian Brody since he first appeared in the film “Liberty Heights”, a coming of age drama set in 1950’s Baltimore. That film made me a fan for life. And of course, Penelope Cruz is always in fine form; both professionally and physically, so this film figured to be the type of good period piece which I would enjoy. Well, so much for blind hope.

Originally titled “Manolete”, this film tells the story of the legendary Spanish bullfighter and his love for Lupe Sino, a woman whose love was coveted by many men. She was an actress and also a Communist, which at the time was not a good thing in Spain. The Spanish dictator Franco had just kept his country out of the Second World War as the Communists and Fascists struggled for control. In addition to her own political views her first marriage was to a Communist party member, which only added fuel to the fire which surrounded the actress. That scandal had a definite effect on her lover, the legendary Manolete.

Manolete first rose to prominence at the end of the 19th Century, quickly becoming known as the world’s greatest matador. He was especially known for his method of fighting the bull by standing in one spot while the bull charged him. His expertise at what is known as the “manoletina”, which is the name given to the art of using the bullfighter’s cape to lure the bull in for the final kill.

He died at the age of 30 in the town of Linares where he was about to kill his 5th bull of the day. He was gored in the leg and died the next day. Franco ordered 3 days of mourning at the time of his passing. Only funeral music was permitted to be played on the radio. The event was somewhat akin to the reaction in America after the murder of President Kennedy in 1963. 

This movie had so much potential, but somehow; due mainly to the ethereal manner in which it is directed; never really gets off the ground. The storyline is intense; a world famous bullfighter involved with a siren like woman who fills his every thought, losing sight of his own mortality and then paying the ultimate price for his misguided love. It is also the story of a man who lived on the edge of death; defying it for a living; and how love may have played a role in his untimely demise.

This is a movie I may have to revisit. I have a feeling that I might have missed something while watching it. There can be no other explanation; with a story this good, it would be almost impossible to make a movie this tedious.

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