A Gothic Tale of Social Disparity and Passion from Chile
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"CORONATION (Coronación) is a visually stunning film from Chilean Director Silvio Caiozzi who also wrote the screenplay based on José Donoso's novel of the same name. Not only is the story one of visceral passion between two young lovers, it is also the tale of one older man's obsession for a love he has never possessed and the manner in which that affects the lives of everyone around him.
Andrés Ábalos (Julio Jung) is an elderly man who is the heir of a formerly wealthy and influential Chilean family who lives his life of solitude in the mansion with his grandmother Elisa de Ábalos (María Cánepa) and housekeeper Rosario (Myriam Palacios). Elisa is a crusty old woman who sees herself as a queen and lives in the past as a beautiful debutante, yet responds to Andrés and Rosario with a knife-edged tongue. A young girl Estela (Adela Secall) is brought in from the campo to attend Elisa and after a harsh start the two bond. Elisa warns of the dangers of being attracted to poor young men and in keeping with her predictions Estela meets Mario (Paulo Meza) and his brother René (Luis Dubó). Andrés, despite his age and his young rival Mario, falls in love with Estela, spies on her, becomes obsessed with her and his interference in a love affair leads to dire consequences for both the wealthy family and servants and the lower class suitors to the lower class Estela. The cross of passions and intricacies of the decline of the upper class in Santiago bring a downfall to Andrés in a surprising way.
The story is richly and darkly detailed, the acting is superb, but it is the cinematography of David Bravo that makes this film the visual wonder that it is. The musical score by Luis Advis enhances the disparity of classes and creates a fine atmosphere. This is a very fine film, in Spanish with English subtitles, that pleads for a larger audience! Grady Harp, August 07
Portraits of loneliness
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 01/02/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Based on the novel by the great Chilean writer Jose Donoso (The Obscene Bird of Night), Coronation is a portrait of, one could say, loneliness passed down from one generation to the next. An older middle-aged man (in his 50s, give or take) lives with his 90ish grandmother in the mansion of his ancestors in Santiago, the capital of Chile. The man, Don Andres, has inherited a family fortune and does not have to work--or do anything, for that matter.
This lack of doing anything at all links to Don Andres' loneliness and as well his lack of recognition of how the world works, and lack of maturity. Already with one housekeeper, Rosario, he takes on a second, Lourdes, whose 17 year-old niece, Estela, also is hired, but specifically to care for Don Andres' grandmother, Dona Elisa, whose constant memories of her youth as a beautiful woman decked out in traditional Spanish dress are the fantasies that keep her alive. She's mockingly called "the queen" by Rosario and Lourdes, but laps up the attention, recites outdated poetry to reinforce her fantasies of romance, and warns Estela of the dangers of young men only after one thing.
Both Don Andres and Dona Elisa are confined to the cages of their own loneliness; this gives the film an overarching sadness that is relieved by two elements: 1) Andres' only friend Carlos, a successful surgeon, who loves having momentary affairs with as many women as possible and brags about it to Andres; and 2) Estela, who does, in fact, meet a young man and is overcome by lust with and for him. Thus, lust, Donoso seems to be saying, is the only thing that relieves loneliness.
Carlos makes fun of "love" in one scene; that's him really glorifying his numerous lustful trysts. Andres wants love, and with Estela--obviously preposterous (he's not only in his mid-50s, but heavy, jowly)--and rejects Carlos' sexual flightiness. Andres wants poetry, romance...his fantasies parallel those of his grandmother.
The culmination of the story is a brilliant convergence of all characters in a party that never occurs. Loneliness raises its head--pushes it, in fact--and makes a transition to desperation or to surreal shenanigans based on drunkenness and complete lack of understanding.
A well acted drama, the 2000 film Coronacion (the title in Spanish) is definitely worth seeing."