Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Cecilia Roth, Gael Garcia Bernal, Luis Ziembrowski, Chunchuna Villafañe, Lito Cruz
Director: Fito Páez
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Carmen (Cecilia Roth, VIVIR MATA) has been exiled from her native Argentina for over 20 years, ever since the military dictatorship's ascension to power. Emotionally scarred by the persecution she suffered during that time... more »
Or 'Private Lives' in Argentina; Melodramatic But Gripping
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 03/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You might be interested in this Spanish/Argentine film because of the inclusion of Gael Garcia Bernal of 'Motorcycle Diaries' and other superb Latino-American films. Yes, he is in it, but what is more impressive is the outstanding acting from Cecilia Ross, the star of 'All About My Mother' (and the wife of Fito Paez, director of 'Vidas Privadas' aka 'Private Lives'). She gives another strong acting as the heroine of this very unconventional story.
Cecilia Ross is middle-aged Carmen, visiting her ailing father in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Carmen is now living in Madrid, apart from the rest of her family, but as the film's story unfolds, we realize that she often looks restless and uneasy even though she is back home.
But Carmen has a more peculiar habit. Every night, alone in a dark room, she listens to the sounds of the young couple making love in the next room. And she is not eavesdropping or spying; she doesn't even know their faces, for she in fact hires the 'lovers' (including a handsome model played by Gael Garcia Bernal). But why does she have to do that?
The melodramatic story follows the fates of Carmen and the young model who are both attacted to each other through their voices, and the film does not crave for credibility, giving emphasis upon the emotional turmoil of the unlikely couple, so if you say the plot is impossible, no one can blame you for that. But those who laugh at this apparently incredible chain of events, or who wince at intentionally (I think) exaggerated sound effects of piano and strings, would miss the film's point.
For as the previous reviewer says, to understand the film we need to keep in mind that the film's nature is akin to that of Greek tragedy, in which we mortals are all frail and erring. And behind these all-too-human characters you see the ghost of the atrocious dictatorship in Argentina, which started in the late 70s. Now it is gone, for good I hope, but it can still torment those who are involved, whether as the oppressors or the oppressed.
Though the film's cast give unanimously good acting, it is Cecilia Ross who is most impressive, at times literally dedicating herself to be the character. And the fans of Gael Garcia Bernal would not be disappointed, whose character plays the crutial role in the latter half of the film. Just wait a while, and you will see his good performance.
A similar theme (about the sad history of Argentina) was taken up in 'Imagining Argentina' starring Emma Thompson and Antonio Banderas. I didn't think it was good, but well, just in case you're interested."
An Urgent, Controversial, Challenging Film from Argentina
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though the essence of this story goes all the way back to Greek plays, the theme of this radiant film has rarely seemed more cogent and contemporary. It is always refreshing to learn some occult historical information from a fictional movie and that is another reason to view this important film written by Alan Pauls and Fito Paez (an accomplished and respected musician in his directorial debut). The fact that Paez is the husband of the brilliant actress Cecilia Roth is another indicator that the collaboration of these two artists promises, and delivers, much!
The cruelty of the dictatorships in Argentina during the 1970s (and into the 1980s) may not be widely known yet, so this film is revealing in its references to that period. Carmen Uranga (Cecilia Roth) has been living in Madrid for 20 years, following her 10-month imprisonment in Buenos Aires as a political undesirable. While in prison she endured rape, delivered a baby which was taken from her and put up for adoption, and became so psychically bruised that she has been unable to form close relationships in the interim years. She returns to Buenos Aires at the request of her family: her father (Hector Alterio) is dying and her younger sister Ana (Dolores Fonzi), a lawyer, is trying to put their father's estate in order, and care for their mother Sofia (Chunchuna Villafane) The physician Alejandro Rosenberg (Luis Ziembrowsky) attending their father has mysterious connections to Carmen and when she arrives in this strange household she is confronted with the nightmares of the past which she has never emotionally resolved.
One of Carmen's old friends Roxana (Carola Reyes) is grooming a young, handsome model/hustler Gustavo (Gael Garcia Bernal) and when Carmen confides to Roxana that she is in need of a sexual outlet while in Buenos Aires, Gustavo is the chosen one. At first summoned to Carmen's apartment with a female trick to perform audible sex acts for Carmen's hidden voyeuristic sexual gratification, Gustavo is gradually moved to the role of reading scintillating novels behind closed doors while Carmen pursues her self satisfaction in the adjacent darkened room. Eventually Gustavo (much younger than Carmen) becomes curious then obsessed with meeting Carmen face to face and this gradual change in their 'relationship' tips the scales of the story of the remainder of the film.
To say more would destroy the unraveling of this drama. Suffice it to say that Carmen's past while in prison surfaces in its entirety and the results alter the lives of every character in the film. The story has many more sidebars that add to the intrigue, but they are disparate and too numerous to mention.
The acting by these fine artists is consistently excellent: Cecilia Roth and Gael Garcia Bernal are extraordinary together and separately. In addition to the actors mentioned above, Lito Cruz stands out as Gustavo's 'father', opening a whole different study of father/son, genetic/adopted issues. The cinematography by Andres Mazzon finds the center of every scene and creates beautiful visual effects. The musical score by the director Fito Paez with Gerardo Gandini is stridently piercing, adding to the tension of the story.
This is not an easy film to watch, but for those who appreciated 'The Piano Teacher', 'The Mother', The Crime of Padre Amaro', 'Amores Perros' and other edgy films that dare to explore taboo subjects, this is a film that informs as well as provides a strangely fine tale. In Spanish with subtitles. Grady Harp, February 2005"
"You can always choose again"
Sebastian Fernandez | Tampa, Florida United States | 02/02/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a 2001 movie that was released on DVD in the US after the success experienced by Gael Garcia Bernal in "And Your Mother Too" and Cecilia Roth in "All About My Mother". Fito Paez, one of the main musicians in Latin America, and husband of Roth in 2001, directed the film. He also wrote the screenplay and created the music. All these factors provided a compelling argument for me watching this movie, since I love Paez's music and I have always enjoyed the performances of Cecilia Roth. Luckily I was not disappointed by the quality of what I got, with my only criticism being that there are some very twisted aspects to this plot that may make some people uneasy to say the least.
Carmen (Roth) is living in Spain and needs to go back to Buenos Aires, where she has not been in the last twenty years, because her father is dying. Upon her arrival she finds that the cardiologist caring for her father is an old acquaintance with whom she shares a painful past. She also finds a young sister who is eager to get to know her better. But besides facing the events surrounding her father's death and going through the strain suffered from meeting people from her past that awaken disturbing memories, Carmen embarks in a kinky relationship with Gustavo (Garcia Bernal). He is a model and a hustler that works for his girlfriend and tries to prevent embarrassing his father, a well-known soldier that is now retired, by using a stage name
The movie shows a very talented use of the music, in order to provide the viewer with clear indications of the mood of the characters in different situations, showing one of the many advantages of having Fito Paez involved in the production. The other aspect that was very interesting is that the plot connects the present with events that happened in Argentina during the terrible dictatorship in the seventies and part of the eighties. For those of you interested in this topic, the movie excels in presenting the long-term effects of the events that took place during this dark era through which most countries in Latin America went through. I would like to end this review with a warning for those of you that are very sensitive to human suffering: some of the scenes and situations presented are gut wrenching and may upset you. For those that think you can take this, go ahead and watch this film, you will probably find it was a worthwhile experience."
Tanger_S | Seattle, WA | 02/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Composed and practical Carmen comes back to Argentina after 20 years of exile to visit her dying father... Ten month in the junta's tortures cell changed this woman forever. Carmen lives the double life: she secretly rents an apartment where the pairs have sex while she is staying in the next room. One day, this ritual is going to be ruined by the fascinating voice of young Gustavo... Cecilia Roth (Carmen) and Gael Garcia Bernal (Gustavo) are amazing actors. They tell their stories with so much passion and pain that on the face of it the melodramatic story turns into the real tragedy of two people who lost, then found, and then lost and found themselves again..."