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En brazos de la mujer madura (1997)


Director: Manuel Lombardero
Writers: Rafael Azcona & Manuel Lombardero
CAST: Juan Diego Botto, Miguel Ángel García, Joanna Pacula & Faye Dunaway

It’s 1936 and the Spanish Civil War is about to start. Andres, who is a student at a religious school in Spain, wants to go to join his mother, who has left for Northern Spain. His plans to go to France and then come back through the North, fail completely when he is intercepted by the rebels that controlled that Southern part of the country.
Andres has to help in the kitchen. Because of his knowledge of English, he is called to help translate for Davalos, the commander of the division where Andres is stuck. The rebels have taken a British count and his wife prisoners. The countess, knows how to get the permit to exit the country by giving herself to Davalos in exchange for her liberty. Andres, also, gets to sample some of the charms the countess has to offer. When Andres is allowed to leave, he is sent to stay with one of his superiors’ family in Barcelona. There, he meets Julia, a young girl, he lusts after, but nothing comes out of it. As a way to survive, Andres decides to deal in the black market. At the end of the war, his mother suddenly arrives in Barcelona accompanied by one of the higher ups in the winning side, Victor, who knows Andres has helped the enemy.
A new life begins for this young man, who doesn’t like his new life, but goes along with it, as he enters the university. He soon discovers a beautiful neighbor, Marta, in his building who he desires. She is married, but she has no problem embarking in an affair with a man much younger, but everything comes to an end when Marta, and her husband are found out as having worked for the rebel’s cause. When everything seems to fail, Andres discovers Pilar, who had been a peasant girl supplying the rebels, is in Barcelona and she is ready for him. This picaresque tale of sexual awakening is told with great flair by its director, Manuel Lombardero, who also co-wrote the screen play with Rafael Azcona. What Mr. Lombardero has avoided is to stay out of the politics, something a great deal of his fellow directors would have taken a stand to bombard the viewer with their own slant. The film deals basically in how Andres survives and the older women that enter his life to teach guide him, sexually.
Juan Diego Botto plays the older Andres, and Miguel Angel Garcia plays the title role at age 15. Mr. Garcia bears an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Botto and we had to do a double take when Mr. Botto begins playing half way through the film. The ladies that help Andres achieve his dreams were played by Faye Dunaway, who as the countess, is one of the best things in the film. The lovely Joanna Pacula is Marta, the sophisticated neighbor. Ingrid Rubio does a fine job as Julia, the young girl Andres lusts after. Rosana Pastor plays Pilar and Imanol Arias appears briefly as Davalos. The film is light and never somber, no small accomplishment from Mr. Lombardero and his team.

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