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Torremolinos 73
cast: Javier Cámara, Candela Peña, Juan Diego, Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen

director: Pablo Berger

91 minutes (15) 2003
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Tartan DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
Franco's Spain, the 1970s: Alfredo is a failing encyclopedia salesman whose wife Carmen is desperate for a child they can't afford. Called to see the boss, he's sure he's about to be fired - only to discover that the company is branching out. They've agreed to supply, urm... educational films for the Scandinavian 'Encyclopedia Of Human Reproduction', and Alfredo and Carmen are to be the unlikely stars.

Soon the money is rolling in, and Carmen becomes an international porn star: but there's still no child, and Alfredo is getting big ideas. When he persuades his bosses to finance his first serious film, 'Torremolinos 73', a lumpen homage to Ingmar Bergman, starring Carmen, he has no idea what the movie will become, or what it will do to their relationship...

This dryly funny and surprisingly sweet-natured film drops two very ordinary people into a highly unlikely situation, and delights in exploring less obvious plot options. Carmen has no interest in fame, and Alfredo's ambitions are so at odds with his talent, and the resources at his disposal, that you can't help but feel sorry for him. The filming of his pompous epic is the heart of the film, and a treat for film fans - an overblown folly thrown together by a talentless Bergman imitator, a leading man who speaks no Spanish, and an indifferent crew so undisciplined they even eat the food used to dress the set.

Supported by a cast of amusing eccentrics, Javier Cámara and Candela Peña are note-perfect - tender, refreshing ordinary, and always sympathetic, however ridiculous the situation. There may not be many belly laughs, but the wistful humour keeps you smiling throughout, and even the sex scenes contrive to be inoffensively amusing. Not a film to show your granny, perhaps, but overall, an enjoyable study of human folly and the sacrifices people are prepared to make to achieve their dreams.

DVD extras include a trailer, a mock-doc on the alleged inspiration for the movie (was there a 'real' Alfredo, even a 'real' Torremolinos 73?), and the Tartan Films trailer reel.

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