Gabrielle Rabascal (Marion Cotillard) is in her thirties and still unmarried; an unusual circumstance for a beautiful woman in the 50s. But she's really ill. Her mother thinks she just needs a man in her life, given how her eccentric personality and unpredictable nature has been off-putting to previous suitors, and she subsequently marries a willing bachelor. Of course, the marriage is far from a happy one for either of them, and when Gabrielle is finally admitted to hospital with kidney stones, she finds herself drawn to another patient in the institution over their shared love of literature. They begin a passionate love affair, but are forced apart when her treatment ends and she is taken home by her husband.
From Spain, this drama grapples with some enormous issues without getting too heavy about them. It's emotionally wrenching without ever feeling sentimental, because inventive filmmaker Julio Medem (Sex & Lucia) keeps the tone funny and full of life. He also gets sparkling performances from Penelope Cruz and Luis Tosar, who keep the movie bright and hopeful even as the characters face mortality and death.
Cruz plays Magda, a feisty woman who turns all of her energy toward her lively teen son Dani (Teo Planell) after ditching her womanising husband Raul (Alex Brendemuhl). Dani is a star player on his school football team, attracting the attention of top scout Arturo (Tosar), whose life is shaken to the core when his daughter is killed in a car crash that leaves his wife in a coma. Secretly, Magda has been dealing with issues of her own, going through treatment for advanced breast cancer with her attentive doctor Julian (Asier Etxeandia). When things get more serious, she sends Dani away to stay with his aunt (Monica Sagrera). And while he's away, she and Arturo help each other through their darkest moments.
The film is a rollercoaster of emotions, from soaring happiness to deep despair, and Medem's approach is so honest that this never feels jarring. It's a look at the resilience of the human spirit, which can remain optimistic even when things get tough. Using dry humour and truthful emotions, he explores the importance of choosing joy, seamlessly mixing comedy and tragedy while refusing to let this become a traditional weepy drama. Within this open-handed approach, Cruz shines as a radiant woman who faces life head-on. Her interaction with each of the other characters is complex and engaging, especially in the surprising journey Magda takes with Arturo. Tosar is excellent, as always, with equally layered side roles beautifully played by Planell and Exteandia.
Continue reading: Ma Ma Review
Argentine filmmaker Lucia Puenzo takes a clever look at her nation's history with this charming but subtly chilling drama about events that never happened, but could have. As with her previous films XXY and The Fish Child, this story explores issues of identity and physicality from a young girl's perspective. And what it reveals about society at large is just as telling, mainly because the story is so intimate and honest.
It's set in 1960 Patagonia, where Eva and Enzo (Natalia Oneiro and Diego Peretti) are moving to the mountains to open a hotel along with their three children: teen Tomas (Alan Daicz), tiny 12-year-old Lilith (Florencia Bado) and youngster Polo. They drive north with German doctor Helmut (Alex Brendemuhl), who becomes the first long-term guest in their lakeside hotel. He also becomes fascinated by Lilith's underdevelopment: she looks like an 8-year-old, and he starts secret treatments to help her look closer to her true age. But his interest in the family continues with Enzo's doll-making hobby and, even more interestingly, the fact that Eva is pregnant with twins.
Early in the film, it becomes clear that Helmut is actually the escaped Nazi Josef Mengele, and that he's continuing his human experiments on this unsuspecting family. But since the story is told through Lilith's eyes, it's difficult to see Helmut as anything but concerned and helpful. Indeed, the entire community seems to be aware that Nazis are hiding all around them, but they don't really care as long as they're productive members of society. So it's Brendemuhl's subtly layered performance that reveals Helmut's darker willingness to break rules to fuel his research. Plus the interest of a local photographer (Elena Roger) who just might be a Nazi hunter in disguise.
Continue reading: Wakolda Review
Following World War II, German Nazi doctor Josef Mengele is being hunted down by Allied forces for being one of the perpetrators of inhumane human experimentation at Auschwitz. He's hiding out with an Argentine family on the other side of the world, masking his identity as he is welcomed into their lives. It's there he meets Lilith; Eva and Enzo's young daughter who appears to be growing at an abnormally slow rate. He explains to the family that it is his life's work to improve cattle breeding, while taking a massive interest in Lilith's genetics. The parents are worried about his relationship with Lilith - and more importantly, about just how far he's taking his interest. When a female photographer shows it, it becomes more clear that they are dealing with a man who's not all he says he is.
Continue: Wakolda Trailer
Spanish actor Alex Brendemuhl discusses his new movie 'Wakolda' in an interview at Cannes Film Festival. In the movie he plays Nazi doctor Josef Mengele who was known for his operations of cruelty at an Auschwitz concentration camp.
Gabrielle Rabascal (Marion Cotillard) is in her thirties and still unmarried; an unusual circumstance for...
From Spain, this drama grapples with some enormous issues without getting too heavy about them....
Argentine filmmaker Lucia Puenzo takes a clever look at her nation's history with this charming...