- Fernando Trueba
- Reviewed by
- a.k.a. Jacinda
- Review date
- Monday, July 23, 2001
This delightful comedy is equally irresistible. While the story is rather simple the characters are more than unique. First there is Manolo who is played in a very compelling way by Fernando Fernán Gómez. He has some of the best lines in the movie ridiculing the church, the Fascists and the Republicans in a hilarious way. The four daughters Clara (Miriam Díaz Aroca), Violeta (Ariadna Gil), Rocío (Maribel Verdú) and Luz (18-year-old Penélope Cruz) steal the movie though. Their performances are enchanting and more than enjoyable. Jorge Sanz remains a bit pale due to the fact that he is the confused man trapped in the girls’ play of love and desire. It suits him well until the end when he has to decide for one sister. Unfortunately he cannot fully convince us he has settled with only one of them.
Belle Epoque is a light-hearted comedy full of love, lust and liveliness. The erotically charged scenes are surprisingly funny and add much to the comic appeal of the movie. Most of the humor is very down to earth while part of it is satirical. Manolo’s family can be called more than liberal in many ways. One of the highlights of the movie is the arrival of Manolo’s wife that goes along with a ‘melodic’ scene. When Amalia (Mary Carmen Ramírez) returns we suddenly understand the nature of the girls’ behavior. The movie conveys a warm atmosphere combined with a certain feminist attitude. However our hero Fernando cannot possibly be considered a victim of their vigorous love life.
While the revolution is basically used as a background for the magical story omens of war break loose in scenes that are related to death and suicide. These scenes actually feel a bit out-of-place. Strangely enough they are more comic than tragic. Nevertheless they fit in the movie and prepare us for the ending that foretells the war.
Belle Epoque reminds me of a Shakespeare comedy like Much ado about nothing – possibly because of the beautiful scenery and the subtle usage of dialogue. Fernando Trueba delivers a very special movie with incomparable characters. Hilarious, intriguing and highly enjoyable!
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