Sunday 22 February 2015

Mama Turns 100 [1979]

Following Franco’s death, Saura made an opportune return to the dysfunctional family dynamics and associated political allegory of Ana and the Wolves with its timely sequel Mama Turns 100. This wry, pungent and bitingly satirical black comedy provided a vitriolic look at the flight of the morally corrupt elites, dramatic change in stance of the Catholic church and emergence of newer forces of damage hitherto insignificant following the sudden subsiding of the army’s hegemony and iron grip. Ana (Geraldine Chaplin), who is alive (thus making the previous film’s finale essentially a surreal enactment of collective fantasies) and happily married to Antonio (Norman Briski), returns to the countryside manor where she’d worked as a nanny many years back, on the joyous occasion of centenary birth anniversary of the family matriarch, Mama (Rafaela Aparicio). On arrival she gradually learns that the autocratic José (José María Prada) is dead, the sleazy Juan (José Vivó) has eloped with the cook but is planning to return following Mama’s pleas, the austere Fernando (Fernando Fernán Gómez) is now learning to fly a glider, and the house is now being run by Juan’s conniving wife Luchi (Charo Soriano) who’s embezzling Mama’s money with the aide of one of her scheming daughters and is plotting her murder along with the self-serving Juan and the nincompoop Fernando. Meanwhile, the stunningly beautiful Natalia (Amparo Muñoz), another of Luchi’s daughters, seduces Fernando, thus adding a streak of marital drama to the proceedings. Though lacking the political immediacy and power of the earlier film, the strong elements of bristling parody and murky deception made this a corrosively funny watch. Saura’s use of visuals, music and actors were as brilliant as ever.

Director: Carlos Saura
Genre: Black Comedy/Political Satire/Ensemble Film
Language: Spanish
Country: Spain

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