And the treasures from Spain just keep pouring in!
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fortunate we are that so many fine Spanish films are finding their way to DVD. Discovering the superb actors and directors that apparently flourish in Spain is a joy. And one of the best examples to come along is CUANDO VUELVAS A MI LADO ('By My Side Again') as directed by Gracia Guerejeta. Though not a feminist film in the political sense, it is a film that concerns itself with the viewpoint of women and is carried by a cast of excellent actors. Guerejeta respects the mentality of her audience and has the courage and art to tell this sensitive tale with the judicious use of flashbacks and flash forwards without ever losing the momentum of the story. Three sisters live in Madrid, though they are rarely in contact with each other, so different are their lives and so injured are their individual memories of their pasts. It is only when their eccentric (?possibly mad?) mother Adela (Rosa Mariscal) dies in her home in Galicia that they all return to the place of their childhood. Gloria the eldest (Mercedes Sampietro) seems the most reclusive, while Ana the middle sister (Adriana Ozores) has felt isolated and lives a loose life, and Lidia the youngest is a single mother-to-be. The solid rock foundation person is Tia Rafaela (Julieta Serrano) who carries out Adela's wishes that at her death her ashes be spread at three separate places. Coming to grips with the sisters' anxiety about their Cuban father Joao (played by the always skillful Jorge Perigorria, the potent main character of MIEL PARA OSHUN) unleashes answers to age old dark secrets about this odd family unit. One constant is the presence of Santos who as a child (Israel Rodriguez) played a pivotal role and now as an adult (Francois Dunoyer) manages to bring unity with Tia Rafaela to the three sisters and their roots. The film is magnificently photographed, the music is subtle and additive, and the performances of all the actors are elegantly fine-honed in the best sense of cinematic acting. A truly beautiful, warm, tender film...with a big message about family."