Surprisingly Entertaining Romantic Comedy
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/22/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"El Amor perjudica seriamente la salud (Love Can Seriously Damage Your Health) is a smartly written and produced Spanish Romantic Comedy dating back to 1996 when two of the 'stars' (Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem) were barely known: of course now, their names add enormous credibility to the DVD issue on today's market. Written and directed by Manuel Gómez Pereira, this is a tale of a boy/man and girl/woman who meet in a slapstick situation in the 1960s when the Beatles were all the rage, fall in love, part and have recurrent meetings over the next thirty years under varying circumstances that prove to be both humorous and sensitive.
In the mid 1960s there is a reception for the King of Spain and in the hotel site of the reception we encounter a bellboy Santi (Gabino Diego) and an over the top Beatle's fan Diana (Penélope Cruz) whose antics include hiding under John Lennon's bed as he makes love to a local trollop, much to the chagrin of the smitten Diana. The two lock in an attraction and over the ensuing years, each becomes married with family in various forms of devotion and fidelity, and as adults Santi (Juanjo Puigcorbé) and Diana (the gorgeous Ana Belén) continue to have mutual assignations in the most bizarre of circumstances. In the end the repeated replay love affairs take their toll and the two eventually manage to proceed with getting on with their married lives with a degree of normalcy ... or do they?
The flavor of the various passing decades during which Santi and Diana meet is well captured by the director, the scenic designer, the musical score and by the quartet of superb actors. At times, especially in the beginning, the film seems as though it is going to be a slapstick comedy, one that could become tiresome given the subject matter. But just when madcap 60s pass the tone of the film takes on a more sophisticated stance, dealing with serious issues of lust, infidelity, abuse of power, commitment to family and political changes. It all works surprisingly well and the film ends like a 1940s enduring love story. There are numerous bit parts my serious actors, not the least of which is a split moment by an unknown Javier Bardem who even in that twinkle of time gives evidence of the gifted actor he has become. The very young Penélope Cruz likewise proves not only her early comedic gifts, but shows us that even as a beginner she has electric screen presence. A fun and tender little diversion of a film. In Spanish with English subtitles. Grady Harp, October 07