Tuesday, October 10, 2006


5th Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3

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The second movie during the featured director's (Jose Luis Garci) night at this year's Spanish film festival is a light farcical comedy simply entitled "Ninette". Alexandra or Ninette as she is called is a liberated French girl born to leftist Spanish parents who immigrated to Paris, France. She works at Galeries Lafayette, this huge department store in Paris. One day, Andres, a comely man from Murcia, Spain goes to Paris for a visit. By some twist of fate, his friend Armando books him a room at the apartment of Ninette's parents. It is Andres' s first time in Paris so he wants to experience the Parisian lifestyle as much as possible. But it seems Ninette has other plans for Andres.

This movie is adapted from two plays by Miguel Mihura. "Ninette and the Gentleman from Murcia" and "Ninette, Paris Fashion." Miguel Mihura (1905 - 2005) is one of the greatest humorists and dramatists of the 20th century. He boldly attempts to make a comparison between the two countries, in terms of fashion, ideologies, political leanings and life in general. Ninette's parents Monsieur Pierre and Madame Barnarda have pretty socialist/communist leanings with posters of Lenin hanging on the wall of their apartment in Paris. Yet they still remain true Spaniards in their hearts and constantly talk about the motherland with affection. Andres becomes their link to their past, while Ninette personifies everything modern and spontaneous in the chosen second home, Paris.

The whole movie is shot indoors. It has a theater feel to it since after all it is based on plays. Jose Luis Garci captures the romantic, amusing and sometimes funny essence of this light comedy, perfectly. Although there were some parts which I thought come out as being too theatrical in nature. After a while, the drab scenery of the interiors became too claustrophobic for me. I wished the atmosphere would suddenly change and breathe in some refreshing shots of my favorite city in the whole world. But alas, it isn't so.

The dialogue is quite simple. It was fun to hear the characters speak French with a thick Spanish accent. They would also combine their sentences with French words while speaking in Spanish. A really common thing to do, if you are bilingual.

You really need to be a theater afficionado to appreciate this film.
Or else, the only reason you will stay glued to the screen would be the alluring screen presence of Elsa Pataky as the mesmerizing "Ninette". The young woman who somehow 'hypnotized' poor Andres to stay indoors with her in their stuffy apartment when one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world beckoned him with her numerous attractions.

What a fool!

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