AMANTES (Lovers)
DIRECTOR:                     VICENTE ARANTA
COUNTRY:                     SPAIN 1992
CAST:                              Victoria Abril, Jorge Sanz, Maribel Verdu
SUPER FEATURES:        Illicit Love Affair Goes Haywire.

Spanish films are finally settling in as an important part of the art world, usually having to play second banana to either an Italian, French or English film. But at least, when the films do not like a Spanish piece of fluff, they are beginning to shape up as a nice breed of work, even if, so far, it seems to be centered around one actress, whose work is beginning to be noticed. Victoria Abril has helped put her country's films back on the map, a bit on a sabbatical since the late master LUIS BUNUEL, who single handedly made sure we knew there was much more to Spain than Generalissimo Franco, even though the government was not about to say anything about the film, so they could sweep their distaste for arguments with the church.

If anything, if Pedro Almodovar and Carlos Saura are an indication, the film industry has finally succeeded in Spain, to the point where the church is no longer a divisive factor of the public by deciding a film is bad, and the public flocking to go see it. Were these church leaders intelligent, they would have embraced the artists and public, and set themselves up well (even financially) for the next century or two. But old ideas die hard.... and the divinity plays have not improved.....

Amidst a country, like Italy, where the Christian church has such a large influence, film is thriving. While it exposes a side of people, which Luis Bunuel himself was already discussing in very large detail, although he made a point of showing up his opponents, these films have begun to gain a life of their own, and probably say more about the actual population of the area, than it does about their ideas. As in Bunuel, the ideas and the realities are not quite the same thing, and the opposite sides can have disastrous impacts on individuals. If this helps people learn, then the church has found its destroyer.

AMANTES, is a story of dualities, and specially in the mind of a man, who can not decide between his love for a woman, and his desire to be involved with someone more innocent, but who can't satisfy him despite her true love and care for him. And the resolution he has to make involves a bit of a plot to get rid of the innocent girl, who has in the end, finally recognized that she does not want to live, since her only dream is dead. And in front a church, she allows for her lover to help her commit suicide.

The whole film is based on a true story, and the outcome of the events, and while it creates a wonderful screen tale, with very good actors carrying it, it is the subtlety of the situation, and the teetering edge that it lives in that keeps the film going.

Victoria Abril is very good, and as in at least two of her previous films, has no qualms about her sexuality or sensual involvement in her roles, and portrays another depth for an actress which is not readily found. As such, it also shows the potential of a new style of film making, which in the future will incorporated what is today called pornography, into an art form. There are moments which are not quite for everyone, surrounded by the gypsy love songs about sex, and while a bit surrealistic to see it portrayed in a film, it does bring out another set of feelings
in the people involved. And the innocent girl, lacked this kind of open-ness. And while she is willing to learn, it also appears that she is destined to fail. She is not free from herself, as the lover has become with her body. However, it is also this freedom which brings about the fateful deed, and the eventual destruction of the romantic relationship.



THE FILM IS BLUNT, Spanish style.





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