Thursday, April 7, 2011South from Granada
I'm still thinking about that movie South from Granada I mentioned on my other blog Movie Opinions April 4, 2011. Since I don't do spoilers on that blog, merely give my opinion of a movie to let people know a bit about the movie so they can decide to watch it or not, I thought I go ahead and spoil it on here.
Does anyone read this anyway?
First of all, what foreign movie industries label "comedy" or "romantic comedy" is WAY different than what American movies mean by "romantic" and/or comedy. This movie, in my opinion, was far from a comedy. This was a drama. Few laughs except when Brenan calls after the girl who ran out of the room after the first time they made-love, "Was it that bad?"
I watched my way through Matthew Goode's movies, mostly newest to oldest, until I got to his first movie South from Granada (there's one earlier made-for-British-TV movie which no one's ever heard of, Ugliest Stepsister or something.)
I've liked all his movies (Leap Year is still my favorite even thought it's not his best.) All except Chasing Liberty, that is. Groan, Cough-cough. Icky-poo.
South From Granada, a Spanish movie, is based on a memoir of Gerald Brenan, a writer, who lived in Spain circa 1920.
Matthew Goode, in an attempt to make him look a little like Brenan, had his hair dyed golden blond. He has naturally curly hair so this made him look like a cute little English Moppet. Except for the fact he is long and lanky (over 6-feet tall and almost painfully slender) and has a glorious deeper than deep voice. He looked quite good with blond hair, just not as powerful or as mature as he looks with natural black hair.
Another scene, completely unbelievable at the end was supposed to be 20 years later. The daughter who would then be 23, still looked like a young teenager, while the Brenans looked about 70. I sure didn't like seeing Matthew mostly white-haired and bald with wrinkles and bags under his eyes. And you'd think he'd gain a little weight by then and not stay so string-beany.
I was amazed to read that Matthew Goode doesn't speak Spanish. (The Spanish in Spain is as different from New Mexican Spanish that they might have been speaking Martian. All all I caught was por favor a couple of times.) In reality, Matthew spoke his lines by phonetic imitation. It takes exceptional talent and intelligence to be able to do that.
I found it hard to read the subtitles AND keep my eyes on the characters and action at the same time. I had to keep backing the DVD up and replaying it to catch some of the dialog and/or look at Matthew's beautiful face.
In one delicious scene, that looked awkward as hell, Gerald and Juliana are learning to dance to the tune of a gramophone. The actor and actress were both completely naked. It was just a few delightful seconds, so don't blink or you'll miss it. But I must say, Matthew is definitely hung, if you know what that means. (You can see this scene on YouTube if you search a little.) He's also surprisingly muscular which isn't obvious when you see him clothed.
I feel a bit about this movie the way I felt about Imagine Me and You. In that movie, I was sad for the husband who was dumped by his new bride in favor of another woman. It was a comedy in the sense that it had a happy ending, I guess. But Matthew did such a convincing performance as a worried, hurt and sad man that he had me crying. At least it had a few more laughs in it than South from Granada.
In South from Grenada, Matthew's character Gerald Brenan has a child with his young lover who was a maid in his rented house, as was the custom at that time (and might still be for all I know.) He leaves her to go back to England, promising he'll be back. But he doesn't come back for three years and, in fact, get married in the space of that three years. (If I were writing this, I would bring him back to town to live with his lover joyfully forever. I guess real life is different. In this movie I'd prefer more fiction.
Not only that, the guy he returns three years later with mustache and his wife in tow and they get his little girl and leaves town again.
Granted, the mother did say yes. Actually she said, "If she stays here she'll be as poor as the rest of us," or words to that effect.
It's how I felt about Buddha Gautama when I first heard he left his wife and child (and palace) to go sit under a tree and contemplate. How spiritual is that, I ask you? I've forgiven him now. But hard on the kids, these broken families.
South from Granada is a little like Madame Butterfly the opera, without all the singing, in which the navy lieutenant leaves the Japanese "wife" there with their son. Then he returns with his wife to claim the boy. Of course the Japanese girl does what is expected of her...commits supuku or ritual suicide. In this movie, the Spanish senorita doesn't kill herself, she just goes on jumping into bed with other lovers and presumably having more children. But still...
It's time to put Leap Year on my DVD player and chase South from Granada out of my mind.
Matthew Goode as Declan. Leap Year 2010