OK. Don’t let the poster fool you. While the steamy screen implicated in the poster does take place in the movie, the
movie is not about sex. It is a love story with a dominant political background. And while the movie has many flaws, it is a decent picture.
Irene (Jennifer Connelly) is a journalist in a fashion magazine in Chile during the fascist dictatorship. However, she lives in relatively well conditions with her mom. Irene’s fiancé Gustavo is a soldier and her comfortable, though a little restricted life, has kept her eyes closed to how bad things really are in the country.
Francisco (Antonio Banderas) is a psychologist. His family has been exiled from Spain and since he can’t work as a psychologist during a time when it is considered to be one of the biggest taboos, he gets work as a photographer and starts working for Irene. He and Irene develop an instant bond. While their friendship deepens and Francisco falls for her, he also opens her eyes to what’s really going on in the country. He also works in the “shadows”- that is he helps people that have been tortured/jailed unjustly- just because the military “felt like it”
– The acting is too over the top. Sometimes even Connelly doesn’t even seem that natural but she still makes it work because of how her character is supposed react. Antonio Banderas is quite good. In fact, he is the only one that acts quite well. The rest of the cast looks like they would have belonged better on stage- during times when theater acting was much more exaggerated.
– The movie is in English and the cast’s exaggeratedly heavy accents really hurt the ear. Next to them, you will think Banderas is a native English speaker. Plus, we are used to his accent. Connelly also speaks softly and she doesn’t hurt. But the rest…Thankfully, the majority of the dialogues and events take between these two characters. I wish the movie wasn’t shot in English. Total recasting, except Banderas, wouldn’t have been a bad idea either. Now, there is a reason I like him in this type of film. Yeah, he is good-looking and all that. But, playing a passionate lover is something he does very well. It fits.
Why the hell do I like it?
The first time I saw it, the story got to me. When you don’t know the storyline and don’t know if the characters are going to make it, it is easier to concentrate on the surroundings than the actors and accents. And you got me: I like it when Banderas acts as passionately he does. I mean, you have a character who is passionate both romantically and ideologically, and he fights for what he believes in.
The book is based on the book of Isabel Allende and the movie was directed by Betty Caplan. Maybe there should be a remake with another director…